Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Knuckle Hunting, Chick Lit and Updates

Making My Bones

Well, it's more hunting for bones. At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, what happened to the neighborhood butcher? I used to live in places that had at least one – sometimes more. I can't find any anymore and supermarkets are, in general, a poor substitute. Almost off the meat is sealed in little Styrofoam trays. There is very little in the way of variety in the fresh meat case. It seems like when I really got into cooking with the best available ingredients, more and more meat comes from a factory. It may have always come from a factory, but when it's all pre-sealed like that, it's really hard to ignore. And then there are the lack of butchers. I've often wondered where Food Network chef Giada Dilaurentiis, the only one that is local to me, is finding these butchers that are willing to de-bone things. I know she shops at one chain that I use. I recognize the milk. I can't get the meat guys there to respond to that little buzzer and explain the travesty I see in the meat cases let alone filet something. The one market I like the best for meat and fish (they do have meat guys I can talk to and even watch through a little window), Gelson's Market in Marina del Rey, wigged me out last week by not having any veal or beef knuckles for stock. They always had them. I stopped by a few times last week to no avail. Seems I hadn't picked the right days to go. Fiddlesticks. I had to fall back to my relative sure thing – the ethnic market that's close but still sort of hard for me to get to. I scored not only knuckles (beef not veal) but also the coveted chicken feet (those weird Jon out to no end, but they make excellent stock). The weather has been cool and rainy with more promised for the week (Yes, the local weatherfolk are running amok. I think they are particularly out of sorts because many failed to predict the rain that happened on Friday). Now is the time to make more stock. I think it's even time for some big, one pot meals like coq au vin and beef bourguignon. It being a chemo week, it's nice to have food that are just heat through and dish out. Making the stock was soothing as always. The steam took the chill out of the apartment and made it smell savory and soothing. I can't wait to start searing the meat for my one pot wonders.

This week I've returned to my cooking basics to get back up to speed again. I'd been cooking so infrequently of late that my confidence for trying something really ambitious had become daunting. My first foray into the familiar was an apple pie. Of course, Jon was very much in favor of that foray. I even did a twist on the recipe I had been using by replacing white sugar for brown in the filling. We really liked the result. The sweetness had more depth and went well with the tartness of the apples. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that sooner. Brown sugar goes well with apples. Next week, I'm really planning on trying to make Madeleines and perhaps even croissants.

Craig vs Farming

The epic home gardening project did not go well for Craig. The mutant summer weather and a number of other oddities conspired to keep him from a bumper crop of corn and tomatoes. First there was the disappearance of the thousand lady bugs. I'm not sure how the ladybugs were supposed to stay in one area once released, but Craig seemed to think they would. Alas, the flew the coop, so to speak. The skunk wasn't really a problem, He just made working the garden a bit of a challenge. In addition to ladybug issues, there was a problem with bees not showing up until this past week, too late to pollinate the corn and tomatoes. I'm not sure that had the bees and ladybugs cooperated the results would be any different. It just didn't get hot enough in the Palisades this spring and summer to grow those vegetables. I'm really not sure why he was so bent on growing corn. It reminded me of Oliver Wendell Douglas on Green Acres. I believe the corn turned out the same as his. I believe he's plowing it all under until next spring. Hopefully, the bees and ladybugs will be cooperating.

Deb vs Chick Lit

My forays into Food Fiction have led to delving once again into Chick Lit. I suppose when women are writing about life and problems, food must drift into the picture. Julie and Julia struck me more as Chick Lit than just Food Fiction. Ann Mah's Kitchen Chinese certainly was more the former than the latter. While I loved Julie and Julia and admired Kitchen Chinese, I do not have an easy relationship with Chick Lit. Most of what I've read has been dreadful. The women all seem to be young, attractive fact checkers whose lives implode through no fault of their own. Somehow, they end up either in an exotic locale where they can reinvent themselves or they stumble into a rarefied circle where she discovers her inner whatever. I suppose the difficulty is in crafting a protagonists one can empathize with, Where the books have failed for me, it is always with the protagonist. Some of these women have made me want to shout 'stop whining, you lazy cow and grow a backbone.' I never believe that this sort of heroine solves her problems and triumphs. I am certain that ten pages after the book ends she'll be diving head first into another vat of chocolate ice cream with a spoon. Why do I read them to the end? I wish I knew. I have this tick that once I begin a story, I have to know the end. I've watched Jon play video games that make me crazy because I simply have to see the story play out. It's danged irritating. For now, I'm abandoning food fiction for memoirs. That way, I can avoid further irritation.


I've been writing but not what I'm supposed to be writing. I got a wild hair in recent weeks and it wouldn't leave me alone until there was a thirty page outline. Now, I can get back to what I'm supposed to be doing. I think I can make up the time lost on the solders book because the scenes have been playing in my head all the while I was writing this other thing. It will be a few weeks before I put up another excerpt, because I'm finishing a story for the latest Demonspawn anthology. I've been writing with music a lot lately where I never have before. I find I listen to a lot of Yoko Kano (she gets amazingly funky with that anime music) while writing the current Soldiers book though I did write a major fight scene while listening to Petula Clark's Downtown. And, no, I can't really explain that. The thirty page outline was written while listening exclusively to Sade. That one I understand as the piece has the same sensuality tinged with sadness. I still don't write to music with the Demon Under Glass stories. Again, I'm not sure why. Medical issues aside, I've been having trouble with my latest Demon story. This one is more slash than the last and I'm hearing a persistent voice when I'm writing Joe that's going 'Here we go. Break out the lube.' Sometimes, it's good to know an actor well. You're familiar with their choices and the kind of dialogue they're comfy with. The scenes come to life. But sometimes a particularly loud voice can be a bit distracting especially if the interaction has been recent. But I digress. The writing is coming along at an agreeable pace in spite of distractions. The film projects are working their way through the SAG signatory process. I'm hopeful that will be finished this week. The announcement has to wait at least another week. Things aren't quite in place yet.

Stay tuned.

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