(no subject)
one red one
I just packed an entire box of nothing but saran wrap and ziploc bags. And then when I thought I had packed all the plastics, I found more. (My mother-in-law went through a phase a few years ago where she brought massive CostCo quantities of disposable food storage things and then hid them in various places in the kitchen. I keep reminding myself that I got lucky in the in-laws lottery, as mine are loving and mostly harmless despite their odd fixations.)

I have found a great many things to sell/give away. Will be updating this post throughout the day. Things small enough to mail will go in the mail tomorrow because neither M nor I want to haul them across town on Tuesday. Larger things locals can come pick up now. All of this will be put on the curb and posted to craigslist tomorrow morning.

1 Kate Spade bangle, silver colored, no idea of it's real silver, reads "THIS IS THE YEAR TOO..." on the inside and "learn a language start something new see and be seen travel live the hotel life meet new people" on the outside. Yeah, I don't know either. Gift from a well meaning family member who was trying very hard.

1 60GB solid state drive and enclosure

Wiscon Chronicles Vol 4

Wiscon Chronicles Vol 6

The Physics of Solar Cells
by Jenny Nelson
Principles of Power Electronics Kassakian, Schlect, Verghese

approx 50 handmade stitch markers (I don't have the wherewithal to split this into multiple lots)

Several Sassafras kickstarter reward posters (with apologies for Sassafras members reading this; I backed the kickstarter mainly to support y'all and because I wanted the songbooks; I don't really "do" posters)

1 bottle lovecraftian themed perfume oil

A couple of Puzz-3D brand jigsaw puzzles

1 5x5 Ikea Expedit (the older, heavier model)

1 window A/C unit

1 pair vintage pierced earrings, gold and green, probably paste and not real stone, definitely not real gold

About twelve Two reams of very nice Savoy cream colored paper. I will split this up into lots.

A passel of bamboo knitting needles, 12-14" long sizes US 6-10-ish I think?

A Good Girl's Guide to Bad Girl Sex by Barbara Keesling (I was very confused in my early 20s, okay?)

Spartacus Blood and Sand season 1 DVDs

The Pretender season 1 DVDs

many copies of Salsa Nocturna by D.J. Older

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BPAL sale
one red one
5ml vials and 1/32oz imps (or poppets or droplets or whatever the vendor calls the tiny sample size) of varying degrees of fullness. I don't have the spoons to do a complete inventory for fullness, whether it's an LE, out of production, etc, so lets just say $7 for vials, $1 for imps, you might get lucky or not, +shipping to wherever you are. I got most of these in swaps or care packages, some of them I've never even tried, but I've sniffed all of them in the bottle, and nearly all of them are too sweet, too foodie, or too floral for me. Some of the imps are decants. Many of the imps are only half full, that's why they're only a buck.


Unknown Perfumer
Completely unlabled mystery bottle! Blue glass, smells sweet, sticky, and cottony.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil
Feather Down

The Green Apple of Venus
Atomic Luau Lounge Tiki Bar Screaming Parrot
Halloween 2012 Suck It
Halloween 2012 Pomona
#3 (??? seriously, the only text on the label is Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab #3, picture is of a screaming pumpkin, top note is burnt caramel corn, couldn't get any other notes out of it.)
Blackbear Moon


MB: Bloody Mary (handwritten label, maybe MB is the manufacturer?)
Make Me Smooth Purity Perfume Strawberry Whitecake

Orion x2
The Queen
Scented Gloves
The Scent of Angels
Over the Rhine
Quinacridone Scarlet
The Observatory
Paisley (this one is spicy and has all the notes I usually love in perfume, but it smells like my dad >.<)
Madame X
Massachusetts: Elegance and Old Honey
Cadmium Orange
Titanium White
Corona Borealis

Perpetual Motion Machine
Grandmother of Ghosts
Chaos Theory V: CLXXV Dorian Series 2009
Berry Moon 2009
Event Horizon
Galvanic Goggles

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Recipe post: Lemon Couscous
one red one
Make plans with your lover to cook an elaborate middle eastern dinner, starring the preserved lemons you put up last month.

Get distracted by pointless meetings all week at work and end up taking work home with you for the weekend.

Show up to your lover's house an hour late, with a half-written slide deck and a broken Powerpoint master template. Narrowly avoid having a complete meltdown over how your virtual desktop display has decided to develop a heretofore unseen bug in which it does not resize to fit your laptop screen, and won't let you view anything useful on the remote screen, and how are you supposed to get the data you need out of the remote server if you can't see or enter commands into your fucking terminal.

Realize that there is no way you are going to make an elaborate multi-course dinner tonight. Stubbornly insist on doing something with the preserved lemons anyway.

Root around in the freezer and find an uncooked hamburger patty and some ground pork. Remember that there's a jar of instant couscous in the pantry. This is enough to improvise with.

Ask your partner to chop up and saute an onion in olive oil while you curse at your virtual desktop software, powerpoint, and yourself for agreeing to give a talk first thing in the morning on Monday.

When the onion is caramelized, add spices to taste and lightly fry them. Ground coriander seed and dried parsley are good choices. Do not add salt at this point, because the lemons are preserved in brine and are very salty. Crumble the hamburger patty and add it and the pork to the onions. Cook until the meat is browned. Dice up a preserved lemon (leaving several remaining in the jar for the elaborate tagine that you are definitely going to make some day that is not today). Add the lemon and a cup or so of couscous to the pan. Lightly toast the couscous in oil, because Mark Bittman says you must never neglect to toast couscous before adding water, regardless of what the instructions on the package of couscous says, and you should never go against Mark Bittman's advice. Except when you should, but toasting the couscous is actually a pretty good suggestion.

Add the couscous, meat, onion, lemon, and all to a pot of boiling water. Turn off the stove and let the couscous rest for several minutes. Marvel at how delicious your half-ass improvised meal turned out to be. Resolve to repeat this experiment, but adding fresh fennel and shaved carrot next time.

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one red one
Doing epic laundry now. Spain was awesome. My favorite bit was the week I spent with friends on a boat, just lazing around, swimming, and having communal dinners in the cockpit, but I'm really glad Mike and I stayed longer to do sightseeing too. Al-Hambra was magnificent, Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is the only massive cathedral I've ever seen that I found aesthetically appealing, and live flamenco dancing in the caves of Andalucia was inspiring. Some pictures are public on facebook for folks who have my wallet name account friended; I'll get some more up somewhere I can link from LJ/DW soonish.

Anyway, my real reason for posting today is a poll (sorry LJers; this post is public though so you can vote on DW if you want. Or just reply in comments.) Salong Betong, a famous tattoo parlor in Sweden, now has a shop inside the security zone in Stockholm airport. I'm really considering making sure that the next time I travel to Europe or Asia, my flight goes through Stockholm so I can get a tattoo in an airport.

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one red one
Right, forgot to say, I'm leaving in about eight hours for Spain. Gonna spend a week on Pete's boat with him and a couple other friends from college then a week in a hobbit hole cave house in Andalusia. The plan is too look at lots of Islamic architecture and do lots of hiking.

I have a ridiculous amount of work I'm leaving undone, including the chapbook which has become a really intractable anxiety trigger, but I need the break and I need to travel before the wanderlust takes over and I do something unwise and quit my job or move to Texas or something, so I'm going to try not to feel guilty and come back ready to clear off my desk.

Anyway! Comments are screened (but I'll unscreen anything that doesn't contain adresses or wallet names). Leave an address if you want a postcard. Even if you think I should have your address already it's highly likely I've lost it. If you'd like a particular souvenir let me know that too.

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one red one
Safe travels etc to all you lovelies going to WisCon this weekend! I won't be there. I'm not entirely happy about that, but I think I'd be even less happy if I went, so, la. My in-laws are in town(*) and I have plans for this weekend, some of which involve going outdoors to places with little to no cellphone reception and some of which involve yet more pitched battle against clothing moths ugh. I hope everyone who's going has a fantastic time, and I'll also be scarce on the internet until next week and actively avoiding reading about the con.

(*) We all had a conversation about this visit, but apparently no on in my family, myself included, remembers to put things in the google calendar, so I completely forgot about it, until yesterday when M just casually dropped into gchat "Oh, by the way, I'm punting choir rehearsal tomorrow to take Mom out to dinner." Surprise! Once reminded I remembered the entire conversation we had about her visit, my cousin-in-law's wedding, family dinner with Conservative Uncle Shut Up Already, etc.

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bbq recipes!
Sunday night I found myself needing to pull together a meal for someone with food allergies at the last minute--ratatosk and I had mostly finished preparing food when we decided to invite Fish to join us for dinner, and nearly everything contained ingredients that Fish can't eat. Luckily R had some chicken breasts in the freezer, so I mixed up a Fish-safe barbecue sauce and we threw those on the grill first, before the Fish-death-burgers went on.

Then last night, because I didn't do any menu planning or grocery shopping over the weekend, I threw together oven barbecue with some chicken legs I had hanging out in my freezer, and somehow M was impressed by this, even though oven barbecue chicken is literally the easiest thing in the world to make (and he really should know by now that it's my go-to for when I'm too tired or uninspired to make anything else). M asked me to write up a recipe so he can repeat the dish on nights I'm not home or not cooking for whatever reason, so here goes.

To make last minute oven barbecue chicken, when you haven't defrosted anything from the freezer, dump the frozen chicken (breasts, legs, whatever) and a cup or so of any sauce of your choice in a baking dish. Bake at 350F, covered, until the chicken is fully defrosted, checking it every ten to fifteen minutes, stirring it around, and spooning excess sauce over the top of the meat. Once you're convinced nothing is still frozen, remove the cover and cook another fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the chicken is done (meat thermometer inserted into the thickest piece of chicken reads 165F or the thickest piece of chicken is opaque white all the way through when cut in half). The total cooking time depends on what cut of meat you have and how much you're cooking.

The secret is to the sauce is that you don't need to buy readymade barbecue sauce. I don't like most storebought barbecue sauces, and all the HFCS in them probably isn't healthy. You can mix up homemade barbecue sauce with pantry staples, making only what you need for the meal at hand, and tuning it to your dietary needs and tastes. You don't even need a recipe! I've read hundreds of barbecue sauce recipes in my life, and made at least a couple dozen, and they all boil down to the jingle from that 90s kids show "Spicy salty sour sweet, bring me something good to eat!" That's all barbecue sauce is: something spicy, something salty, something sour or acidic, and something sweet.

I take my barbecue very seriously(*) and I am partial to the barbecue sauce of my kin(**), South Carolina mustard barbecue. That said, I am willing to admit, however grudgingly, that other barbecue traditions can be edible, or even tasty. As a nod to diversity I've put together a table of a couple of barbecue styles I'm familiar with, and what the traditional components of each are.

So how are you meant to use this table? I'm hoping to free you from the tyranny of the recipe, which is why I haven't provided quantities or even ratios. If you've eaten food, you know what tastes good to you and what doesn't. Start with small amounts of everything, taste, and adjust until you like it. You also don't need (and probably shouldn't try(***)) to use every item in a given list. Pick a row, then pick one or two items from each column in that row.  If you're going to use the sauce as a glaze on the grill, or as a dipping sauce at the table, you want it to be thick. Either add thickener or simmer it on the stove to reduce the liquid. Sauces that use smoked peppers also benefit from simmering, and generally I like to saute onions and garlic to death before blending them and adding them to a sauce, but if you're in a hurry or just don't care, skip the extra simmering and sauteeing steps. The one exception to this is North Carolina vinegar sauce, which is meant to be watery.   But above all else experiment and get creative! There is no One True Way to barbecue!

Spicy Salty Sour Sweet Other Seasoning Notes
South Carolina Mustard Mustard Salt Vinegar Honey Red chili, paprika, black pepper, allspice You can add tomato, but why would you?  The mustard can be a bottle of prepared mustard, like French's or Grey Poupon or whatever, or you can use mustard powder, or toast some whole mustard seeds. If you use prepared mustard, you don't need to add extra vinegar, as prepared mustard has vinegar in it already. I mean, unless you really really like vinegar, in which case, go for it!
Tonkatsu/Bulldog Mustard, horseradish, or wasabi Soy Sauce or Tamari Rice vinegar Mirin (sweet rice wine) Worcesteshire sauce, garlic powder, oyster sauce, ketchup Use less spice, proportionally, than other bbq sauce styles
Kansas City Red chili powder, cayenne pepper Salt, soy sauce Apple cider vinegar, tomato Molasses garlic, Worcestershire sauce, onion, allspice KC bbq is known for being sweet, so load up on the molasses here.
Texas Smoked ancho or chipotle chilis, chilli powder Salt, soy sauce Lemon juice, tomato, coffee, beer, Coca Cola Brown sugar onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, mustard, liquid smoke Lemon juice is pretty much required, supplemented, if desired, by one of the other sour ingredients. More so than any other style sauce you want to make sure you have something smokey, either smoked peppers, or cook the meat in a smoker, or, as a last resort, add a drop of liquid smoke.
Eastern North Carolina Tabasco sauce Salt White vinegar Brown sugar, molasses, honey black pepper, Worcestershire sauce Use only very small amounts of sweetener, and never ever add tomatoes to  an eastern NC sauce

Lastly a note on ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Lots of recipes in cookbooks and on the internet will tell you to add ketchup or Worcestershire sauce or both to your barbecue sauce. If you're like me, though, you don't have ketchup or Worcestershire sauce in your kitchen, and that's also fine! Ketchup is just tomato, sweetener, and vinegar. Everywhere you see "tomato" in the table below you can either cook down fresh or canned tomatoes, or use a couple spoons of tomato paste, or use a couple spoons of ketchup, depending on what you have on hand, but since ketchup is sweet, if you use it, cut back on how much other sweetener you use. Worcestershire sauce is vinegar, molasses, onions, garlic, anchovies, tamarind, and red pepper, and with the exception of the tamarind and anchovies, you're probably already adding the other ingredients on the label already. If you like it, it's fine to add it, but if you don't, or if you're vegetarian, or if you don't have any and don't want to run to the store, skipping it is fine too. If you have tamarind lying around, treat it like any other sour ingredient and add it or not according to your taste.

(*) I'm not, really, but it's fun to needle my North Carolina friends about how their barbecue is Wrong.

(**) Really! Some fourth cousins or something from my mother's mother's mother's branch of the family have a barbecue restaurant and mail order barbecue sauce business in Leesville.

(***) I've made coffee barbecue, and Coca-cola barbecue, and beer barbecue, but I've never tried mixing all three and cannot be held accountable if you try it.

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one red one
Possibly, after dancing and singing all day at NEFFA, it was not wisest to have then gone to a minirave where I totally blew out my voice belting Taylor Swift songs and ripped open my blisters dancing in the dark. Totally worth it though. Dunno how I'm going to get through circus school tonight, probably with lots and lots of ibuprofen.

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one red one
I'm apparently on a spree of finishing things today. These mitts have been sitting in my work basket for over a year waiting to be seamed up. These are a wee bit too snug for me. Will happily mail them to the first person with tiny hands who asks for them.

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Yarn notes:

In September 2013 I did a dying workshop at Wyrding Studios. I brought seven skeins of various yarns, some white, some natural sheepy brown/gray, and dyed/over-dyed them all the same rose/green colorway, inspired by Seanan McGuire’s rose goblins. The labels for the yarn are lost and I never stashed them in Ravelry so no idea what yarn this is. It’s a natural animal fiber, was originally undyed brown wool of some sort, the yarn itself is cabled. Very squishy and soft.

Pattern notes:

This was a free internet pattern but I can’t find it now. Basically start by knitting a cabled strip, about an inch and a half wide, long enough to wrap around your wrist. Join CO to BO edges, then pick up stitches along one long edge. Knit a tube to the correct length, leaving a hole for the thumb.

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I wonder if there are any classes or workshops running nearby on how to photograph knitted items under less than perfect conditions. My ideal syllabus would include skills like taking reasonable photos with a cellphone camera, whipping together a neutral background in a small, cluttered apartment, and a short walk outdoors pointing out what kinds of things in an urban environment make for good backdrops vs poor ones. I think using the beige floor pillow has mostly worked, in that it's neutral but warm (unlike a bright white bedsheet), but it also always looks kinda dirty, no matter how many times I run it through the wash. It also won't work with any of the larger shawl projects I have on the needles right now.

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one red one
ratatosk has seen this, so I can post pictures to LiveJournal now!

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Eventually I'll post project notes on Ravelry, but right now it is nearly midnight and I am drunk. (Eight years of being the designated driver by dint of the fact that Mike doesn't drive stick have now ended! We went to a dinner party at Sailor's place that was just an excuse to get his friends to drink his home-brewed apple cider before it turns to vinegar. It was an excellent night!)

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one red one
I'm quite pleased to announce my poem "Gorgon Girls" will be reprinted in Angels of the Meanwhile, a chapbook being collected and sold to raise funds for a necessary shoulder surgery for popelizbet. You can pre-order at the link above; as I understand it's a name your price deal. Although the chapbook is in digital form, it is a limited release and will not be available again after May 1.

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one red one
Here's what I served last night for Novroz (observed). For the record, I feel really guilty that I didn't get my act together to grow sabzeh (sprouted wheat) or make samanu (pudding made from sprouted wheat), nor did I manage to assemble the haft-sin table. But I did get all the traditional good-luck foods, and I remembered to light candles! My restrictions for this meal were: no dairy, no nightshades, no sunflower, no almonds, no honey, no gluten, and any other nuts had to be easy to pick out and eat around. I planned for twelve people, and ended up having fourteen. There was enough food for everyone with a tiny amount of leftovers, but it was a near thing, and I should have made twice as much salad and half again as much kuku.

The pre-dinner snack spread included seven varieties of dried fruits and nuts, in addition to Mike's usual cheese, salami, and crackers plate. This is important because seven is a lucky number and also the fruits and nuts symbolize abundance for the new year.

Also Mike bought some pies from Petsi's for Pi(e) Day. I think he got a key lime pie and an apple pie? By dessert time I was far more interested in the bottle of Laphroaig than more food.

Mazy's Jewelled Rice
My family usually serves biryani on Novroz, but any sufficiently complicated rice dish will fulfill the spirit of the holiday. The one we used came out of Ana Sortun's book, Spice, and I've made it once before. We left out the nuts for allergy reasons, and subbed in a few drops of rose water for rose petals, since we couldn't find food-grade roses. And by "we" I really mean ratatosk, who did the cooking, and Mike, who did the shopping.

1/2 cup sultana
1/4 cup barberries
4 small carrots
zest of one orange
1/2 cup sugar
2c basmati rice
1/4 tsp saffron
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of rosewater
1/4c olive oil

Wash rice thoroughly and soak for one hour.

While rice is soaking do a zillion other steps:

Peel carrots, then use vegetable peeler to continue peeling strips off the carrots until you have a core too narrow to hold onto anymore and a mountain of carrot ribbons. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the sugar, and bring back to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the orange zest and the mountain of carrot ribbons, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the carrots are tender. Drain and set aside the carrots. If desired, save the cooking water to make candy out of later.

Pour hot water over the sultanas and barberries and leave to soak.

Saute the onions in butter or oil (we used oil because of a dairy allergy in the dinner party) until soft and golden. Add the spices and fry for thirty seconds longer then remove from heat. Sprinkle with rosewater, stir, and set aside.

Breathe a sigh of relief that you have decided to skip the nineteen steps involving blanching, peeling, and roasting various nuts.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to taste, add rice. Boil rice for eight-ish minutes or until kinda sorta done. Drain rice. Curse the fact that you do not have a large enough strainer to properly cool the rice. Hope for the best while fighting off the sinking realization that your pilau is going to be mushy.

Drain the sultanas and barberries. Mix everything together in a roasting pan, or in a clay pot you liberated from your mother-in-law's kitchen. Add the olive oil and stir.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or so, until crispy on top.


My parents conflate the southern US tradition of greens on (Gregorian) New Years with the Persian tradition of fresh spring herbs on Novroz, and then replace greens of any stripe with cabbage because Dad refuses to eat collard greens and Mom really hates cilantro. And cabbage is kind of green. Sort of. ANYWAY, according to the internet and also my Iranian ex-boyfriend, a frittata of eggs and fresh herbs is traditional, so that's what I made.

2 medium-ish leeks
1 bunch dill
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
8 eggs
1 small handful barberries
salt and black pepper to taste
oil or butter

Thoroughly wash the leeks. Finely chop the leeks and herbs. Beat the eggs, then add the salt, pepper, barberries, and greens. Oil a pie plate or oven safe frying pan, pour in the egg mixture, and tightly cover. Bake at whatever temperature the oven happens to be on for everything else you're cooking for 15-30 minutes, or just until the top of the omelet is set.

I thought this tasted overwhelmingly of dill, to the point where I couldn't discern any other flavors. Other guests insisted that the cilantro dominated the flavor, while others said the barberries were the dominant flavor. I don't know. Tune the ratios of ingredients to taste, I guess, is the takeaway.

Citrus Fennel Salad

1 fennel bulb with tops
2 orange
1 grapefruit
small handful mint
olive oil, flavored or infused if you like

Dice the fennel, bulb, stem, fronds, and all, into bite size pieces.

Peel and chop the citrus. The easiest way to accomplish this is to slice off the top and bottom to make flat surfaces to rest the fruit on. Holding the fruit steady on the counter, use a paring knife to cut away the rind and the bitter white pith from the upper hemisphere. Flip the fruit over and repeat. Cut the peeled fruit into round slices, cutting across the wedges. You should now have three to five disks made of triangular wedges. Pull the sections apart with your hands.

Wash and finely chop the mint.

Mix everything together. If desired, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt or other spices. To really be fancy, save any juice from when you chopped up the fruit and make a vinaigrette with it. (I didn't bother with this, and just drizzled with persian lime infused olive oil.)

Make sure to take a serving of this salad early in the evening, because left unchecked, Ratatosk can and will devour the entire bowl.

Stuffed Fish

Fish is the traditional centerpiece of the Novroz meal, something about symbolizing fertility and long life. (Some people also buy a live goldfish to put on the decorative haft-sin table for the same symbolic reasons, but I find it barbaric to buy an animal and then keep it in unliveable conditions--everyone I know who does this uses a goldfish bowl with no filtration or oxygenation or anything--for a few weeks until it dies a miserable early death.) The recipe I used last night is modified from North African Cooking, which has a terribly unfortunate subtitle and, according to my in-laws, is not at all authentic, but all the recipes I've made from it have tasted good, even if they are rather tuned for a western palate. (Claudia Roden's book is more authentic, but the recipes are all more complicated and not feasible for the timeline and number of helpers I was working with.) The recipe called for shad, which the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch says you should never eat, so we used hake, which was the best compromise between MBSW's guidelines and the fishmonger's recommendations of what was freshest yesterday morning. Our hake was longer than my baking sheet, and weighed six pounds.

2.5 Tbsp ground rice
3/4 cup water
1 cup pistachios
2tsp sugar
fresh grated ginger to taste
1/2 small onion, grated
cinnamon to taste
salt to taste
1 fish, large enough to serve your party, gutted, scaled, and with head, tail, and fins removed
2 lbs dates

Bring the water to a boil, add the ground rice (you don't need to buy rice meal; rice + a coffee or spice grinder will work just fine) and boil for thirty seconds. Remove from heat.

Finely chop the pistachios. Grate the ginger and onions.

Add the pistachios, sugar, salt to taste, cinnamon to taste, a small spoonful of grated onion, and a large spoonful of grated ginger to the rice porridge. Stir thoroughly.

Remove seeds from dates, and fill dates with the pistachio/ricemeal mixture.

Butterfly the fish, and rub the inside and outside with spices and the rest of the grated onion and ginger. Fill the inside of the fish with the stuffed dates, and then close it back up. If the dates won't all fit, just pile them on top of the fish. Throw in a handful of unstuffed dates so anyone who can't eat pistachio can still have fishy cooked dates. Wrap the fish and fruit tightly in aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 15 minutes per pound of fish, or until the flesh at the thickest part of the fish is opaque.

Vegan Kheer

I was freaking out on twitter yesterday morning, because I had planned to make sooji ka halwa, which would have been easy to make dairy free (just replace the ghee with vegan margarine), but I found out the morning of that one of Mike's friends is sensitive to gluten. [twitter.com profile] sinboy recommended vegan kheer, and I am incredibly grateful, because that would never in a million years have occured to me. The recipe called for almond milk, but one of the guests was allergic to almonds. I almost made two versions: one with almond milk for the dairy-free people, and one with cow's milk for the nut-free people, but decided against that on the grounds that I really really did not want potential landmines or cross-contamination hazards on the table. I almost subbed in rice milk, but it turns out rice milk has, like, a zillion ingredients, one of which is sunflower oil, which another guest couldn't have. I ended up using coconut milk, and it turned out fine.

1 can coconut milk
3c water
1c basmati rice
2Tbsp ground cardamom
1 pinch saffron
1c sugar or to taste
1c sultanas

Soak saffron in warm water for at least fifteen minutes.

Add everything to a pot, bring to a simmer over medium-high fire, then turn to low and let simmer for however long it takes to put together the rest of the meal. Stir occasionally and add water to prevent the pudding from drying out and sticking and burning to the bottom of the pot. Serve hot or cold. If it won't kill you, garnish with pistachios, slivered almonds, or cashews.

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one red one
I like large. . . .socks

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one red one
Photo of a page from my (paper) journal. Text reads: Dear Livejournal, Today I received a Conklin 30 in the mail from Yoon. The barrel is not much to look at but this nib is amazing. LOOK at the FLEX! And I&quot;m not even pushing it to its max extension! (as demonstrated on an insert Yoon included). Apart from dip pens, I&quot;ve never written with a nib this fun before. It is possibly wasted on me given how little I write and how poor my penmanship but I am sorely tempted to keep it anyway. If, that is, I can get used to its demand of a perfect 45 degree writing angle. Iroshizuki Shi-Kai Conklin Crescent 30

Many thanks again to [personal profile] yhlee for letting me take this pen for a no-strings-attached test drive before deciding to buy it or not. The last two days have totally made up for the spectacularly shitty start to this week. Hurrah!

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one red one
I am home from silent retreat. It was very good for me in a lot of ways and also nowhere near as silent as I've come to expect, as there were a dozen guests of the monastery, and not all of them quite understood the concept of "silence." As I said earlier today in a chat with a friend, "it gave me an opportunity to practice the Christian virtues of patience and forbearance with my fellows!"

My darling love M left me a full sink of dishes before he left for New Jersey, and as he doesn't get home until tomorrow, they're mine to wash. Fun times! After that a friend is coming over and there's also a new Courtney Milan out (a "new adult" contemporary, of all things), so I may still be scarce on the internet. My email is terrifying; if you want my attention SMS or gchat are the way to go.

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one red one
I'm heading out this afternoon for a silent retreat with the brothers of the Society of St John the Evangelist. I'll be surrendering my phone to the monk in charge this afternoon, and am leaving anything else with an on/off switch at home, and will be out of contact until Sunday afternoon.

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2014 in poetry
one red one
Hey, I'm a week and change late, but here's some thingsI published in 2014: three poems and a tiny bit of flash fiction (or maybe prose poetry, I don't know, categorizing things is hard). All the poems are eligible for the Rhysling award, if you nominate for those and like any of them.

Gorgon Girls
Main Sequence
The Djinn

Also Strange Horizons' Readers' Poll is open! One of my poems appeared in SH last year, and if you liked Gorgon Girls I'd be honored if you'd consider voting for it. If not, may I also recommend some of my favorites? (I haven't pulled together favorites across all markets yet, for Rhysling recommendations yet, but I hope to soon.)

Una Canción de Keys by Lisa Bradley
Rust by Kythryne Aisling (disclosure: I was one of Kyth's first readers and provided crit)
Even Robots Learn by Penny Stirling
A Self-contained Riot of Lights by Bogi Takács
Salamander Song by Rose Lemberg and Emily Jiang
Warriors by Thato Angela Chuma
You are Here by Bogi Takács

Finally, here are some poetry collections that are worth your time. I haven't finished any of them, because I have the attention span of a ferret on crack, but I've liked what I've read so far and aspire to finishing them and writing reviews at some point:

A Bird Is Not A Stone, a collection of Arabic poetry by Palestinian poets, translated into English, Scots, Gaelic, and Shetlandic. I can only read one of those languages, but have aspirations (that word again) to being able to read the Arabic too one day. Beautiful and hard hitting.

The Haunted Girl by Lisa Bradley. Lisa is one of the finest, if not the finest, long form poet working today. There is horror and fantasy and melancholy and surprising moments of beauty.

Ghost Signs by Sonya Taaffe. Okay, full disclosure, my copy of the book has not arrived yet, but I'd previously read a handful of poems collected in it, and heard Sonya read an except from the novella "The Boatman's Cure" at Arisia, and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest.

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one red one
I haven't done a recipe post in forever. Here's what I'm bringing with me to Christmas dinner tonight:

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

I tried this at Thanksgiving, and it went really well, so am repeating it for Christmas. I kind of made the recipe up based on combining the parts I liked from a bunch of recipes for mushroom-y things on the internet

2 bunches kale
1/2c to 1c mixed grains and lentils -- some grains increase more in volume than others. You want about 2c cooked. I like barley and brown lentils.
1lb mixed mushrooms
1 large onion (optional)
garlic to taste
1lb potatoes
8oz vegan margarine
1/2c almond (or soy or rice) milk
seasonings (fresh thyme worked nicely at Thanksgiving; I'm trying dried rosemary this time)

This can be made in advance, or done in stages, depending on how complicated your holiday culinary preparations are.

Put potatoes on to boil. In a separate pot, put the mixed grains and lentils on to boil. Use sound judgement: if you are combining a long-cooking grain like whole wheat with a short-cooking legume like red lentils, wait until the long-cooking grain is nearly done before adding the short-cooking thing. Set timers so that you don't end up with a burnt mass of lentils permanently fused to the bottom of your pan.

If using onions and garlics, get them sauteeing in oil or vegan margarine. Cook until they are carmelized.

While the things that take forever to cook are cooking, finely shred the kale, and wilt it over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside. Clean and chop the mushrooms, and saute with the herbs in a little oil or margarine. Set aside.

When the grains/lentils are done, drain and set aside.

When the potatoes are done, drain and peel. Mash them via your favorite method, with the margarine and almond milk. Set aside.

Assembly: If cooking with onions, add the kale and mushrooms to the onions and cook the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or so for the flavors to blend. Mix the mushroom-kale mixture with the grains and lentils, and spoon into a baking dish. Smooth the mashed potatoes over the top with a spatula. If you have a vegan cheese that will make a nice crisp top layer, sprinkle it on top. If not skip it. (If making a non-vegan version, sprinkle the top with cheddar or jack cheese. Also use butter instead of margarine for cooking the onions and mushrooms.)

Bake at 350F for 30m, right before serving.

Gajar ka Halwa

1 lb carrots (The internet is quite vehement about red delhi carrots being vital to the success of this recipe. I have never seen red delhi carrots for sale in Somerville, and the locally grown organic ones from the farmers market work just fine. Do not let very vehement people on the internet stop you from attempting this recipe!)
10c milk
8-10 pods cardamom, crushed
1/2c golden raisins
1/2c sugar or to taste
a few threads saffron
2Tbsp ghee or butter

Wash the carrots thoroughly or peel them. Grate the carrots into fine shreds. Theoretically you can use a food processor, but I dislike the texture that results from food processing vs using a grater. Add the carrots and cardamom to the milk, and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium-low and stir frequently, scraping the bottoms and sides of the pan. This is the point where I settle in with a book and a nice mug of tea, and set a timer to go off every fifteen minutes for a couple hours.

While the carrots simmer, soak the saffron in a tablespoon or two of milk.

When nearly all of the milk has evaporated, add the raisins to the carrots and milk. Once all the milk has evaporated add the ghee (or butter if you don't have ghee and don't feel like making it; really, it doesn't matter much), saffron milk, and sugar. The texture of the pudding will loosen and liquify slightly. Cook, stirring constantly, ten to fifteen minutes more until the texture is firm.

If desired, garnish with roasted slivered almonds.

You can also use orange blossom water or kewra instead of saffron if you like.

You may also dramatically reduce the cooking time by using 2c of milk, and cooking on medium heat until the carrots are quite soft and the milk mostly absorbed or evaporated. Then add two cans sweetened condensed milk with the raisins and spices. Cook until the texture is firm. This is how my mom makes gajar ka halwa, and how my auntie makes it when she's really very pressed for time, but we all agree it tastes better when made the long way.

Also note, the amount of sugar given is completely arbitrary. Some people add no sugar at all if the carrots are very sweet, and some people (*cough* like my mom *cough*) will add two or more cups sugar. Add and taste as you go until the pudding is to your liking. Ditto for the ghee or butter.

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one red one
I've been sicker than I have ever been in my life this past week, and even ended up in the ER Thursday. It was really scary, although to be honest, I've also been a teeny bit melodramatic about it all, but I seem to be on the mend (effing finally).

Anyway, the last few weeks have been really hard on me, and a bunch of people I care very much about. The whole thing, and also the Thing from last spring, has me really reconsidering the difference between friends, people who are fun to hang out with at cons, and people whose work I like and admire. There can be (and is!) overlap between the groups, but it's really bad for me to let the lines get too blurry. There's also—apart from the drama that ate SFF—been stuff going on in my personal life and in my head—the new information about my busted knees, infertility, family members being sick, church stuff. All of it together means I am dangerously low on spoons. I've gone and pared back my dwircle/flist, and am redoing my filters. Instead of figuring out the drama-filled mess that is my old set of filters, I just made all my filtered posts private, and got rid of all the old filters. Fresh start. (Except the writing filter, which only exists to protect first publication rights. As always, if you want to see rough drafts & give crit of things I'm writing, just say so.)

Anyway, sorry for all the drama with deleting and blah blah. And here's an unfriending amnesty call: if you think I'm unsafe or abusive or colluding in white supremacy or IDK the unholy lovechild of W*** S*** and the literal devil or whatever it is people are saying about me behind my back, I'm going to make a concerted effort to just not look at my friend-of access-from whatever lists for the next few days. No drama, no grudges, we can still be cordial at the bar at the next con we go to.

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