Toss Your Own Salad, In This Case It’s Charred Cauliflower and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

I’m pretty picky about cookbooks. Occasionally, I will come across one that I adore. However, most of the time, I’m ambivalent–using just a few of the recipes. But a book titled Toss Your Own Salad? How could I say no? So I made charred cauliflower and chickpea quinoa salad  to go with it, and I’ll just … Read more…

Fighting Irish (Patriarchy?)

Let me just start by saying this: I hate my ovaries. I hate my uterus. I hate the curse of Eve. I hate the patriarchy. I hate that the vegan pop tarts have no frosting, and I hate that day drinking is considered so gauche–because my uterus says it’d benefit quite a bit from a … Read more…

Penny for Your Plots

Let me just apologize. This post should’ve been released last week, but my blog was down for the count with an attack on my server.

Have you ever felt like this after an experience?

Have you ever felt as though what you were expecting was so far from what you received that you’re now unclear as to what color the sky is, what day it is, possibly your age, gender, and occupation?

In a word? Gobsmacked.

That’s what Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid did to me. Sure, I knew it would be different. It’s a romance novel wherein the MCs are already married. That right there shakes things up a bit.

I didn’t expect the Vitamix/San Andreas Fault/Jurassic Park promo of plotlines.

Because moms are superheroes, duh.

The blurb:

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true.

Except… not.

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

What I thought:

This book is titled Happily Ever Ninja for a reason. It’s fucking sneaky, and I can’t get over how much I loved it.

It’s a romance that analyzes the ever after. What happens when the couple is established, and the day to day isn’t about wooing and winning, but about wooing and keeping? Should it still be about wooing? Is the woo even relevant? Can I use the verb woo one more time just to make it extra awkward for all reading this post? woo.

I read it in a sitting. One. I sat down, opened it, and didn’t do anything but refill my tea, get some snappea crisps, and let the tea continue its life cycle in and out of my body, and then finished the book. I closed it and felt alive. I felt vindicated. I wanted to tell everyone about this book. Married, unmarried, single, straight, gay, bi, a, demi, narcisexual. Everyone.

Happily Ever Ninja embraces the quotidian modalities of the modern family with such aplomb that it borders on the poetic. Greg and Fiona have been the face of marriage for the Knitting in the City series since book one, and when we finally get to see behind the bedroom doors, we’re surprised and intrigued. The pair have an amazing chemistry and dynamic, but they also have the same issues every married couple has. There’s a harmony in the discord that I’ve never previously encountered in my reading. Their roles have been so well-defined throughout their relationship, that when problems surface, they’re so entrenched in the capillaries of their marriage, that it’s difficult for Greg and Fiona to see that it’s slowly cutting off circulation to the limbs.

It also makes the decision to rectify the issues feel as much like a release of pressure and new life given to things past, that it makes the relief as fluid as the formation.

It’s truly a satisfying plot.

Happily Ever Ninja

But, it’s also funny as hell.

Greg and Fiona were funny characters before this installment, (knitting needle, anyone?) but in this book, their dry wit is given full operation in this book. A few of the phrases have made it into my daily conversation, but my favorite is “that sounds like something Hitler would say.” Because it works for so much. Especially at random places, like the ice cream shop or on social media. “Oh, I never get hot fudge”–“That sounds like something Hitler would say.” Or “I went to a casserole party and I had salad.”–“That sounds like something Hitler would say.” SEE? IT WORKS. I’m just waiting for someone to tell me they prefer 4 to 6 nipple clamps at a time, or something. Perfection. Or “I prefer to dress like a baby and be spoonfed canned peaches.” Unfortunately, most baby fetishists are underground about their proclivities, and I don’t think that will come up in conversation without alcohol or LSD–possibly wisdom teeth surgery.

Five huge stars. Not for Hitler.

Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Kobo

Review of Ninja Ever After by @ReidRomance and #recipe for Ginger-Matcha Olive Oil Muffins Click To Tweet

The recipe inspired by the book:

In the novel, one of the frustrating things many women deal with, Fiona deals with: messy husband antics. In one case, it’s muffins. Trust me, read it.  Also, Greg works on oil rigs. And ninjas are traditionally Japanese.

So?

Ginger-Match Olive Oil Muffins

delicious and easy Ginger-Matcha olive oil muffins

Ginger-Matcha Olive Oil Muffins

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer bread breakfast snack dessert

Ingredients (20 muffins)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs or 6 tbsp aquafabas (beat aquafabas to medium peaks)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup boiling water with 1 tbsp matcha powder whisked in, or 2 matcha teabags brewed into it.
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, measured and then chopped finely
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 muffin liners

optional

  • powdered sugar

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

fill a muffin tin with liners

beat together syrup, sugar, and oil until frothy

add in eggs

slowly pour in tea

sift in flour and stir slowly

stir in salt, baking soda, and baking powder

fold in ginger.

pour evenly into twenty muffins, about 2/3 full

bake 20 minutes or until puffed and a skewer inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

let cool completely

dust with powdered sugar

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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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