It’s a sheer joy seeing Jean-Luc on screen again

Just watched the first episode of Picard; I liked it quite a bit, but keep in mind that my heart belongs to Star Trek, so it is hard for me to think critically about it.

And Jean-Luc just makes me smile; it’s a sheer joy seeing him on screen again. And I rather adore his fuzzy white eyebrows. Someday, Kevin will have eyebrows just like those, and I will love them just as much. 🙂

I hadn’t realized Michael Chabon was executive producing — I have a lot of trust in him. (There’s a job I’d abandon many things for…)

I did pause it partway through to read a plot summary of Nemesis, because I’d mostly forgotten it, and in retrospect, I sort of wish I’d actually re-watched it first, even though it is not my favorite of the Star Trek movies. So there’s a recommendation for you!

Watching this episode sparked multiple ideas for my SF novel too. I’m going to start watching the Expanse soon too (I started it once, got sidetracked a few episodes in, so planning to just start over). I’m still drowning a bit in backlogged to-do items, but I think I see light at the end of the tunnel, and writing some science fiction at the other end of it….

[no spoilers, please]


A last minute grant application

That feeling when your little baby nonprofit is applying for its first grant, and you meant to get everything done in good time, but were waylaid by a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad cold, not to mention alarums and excursions at the children’s school necessitating many serious conversations and a whole lot of extra driving, and then your spouse is felled by the selfsame cold, and so you call to ask on the day of the deadline whether a wee little extension might be possible, and are informed sadly, no, it is not, that the grant very much does have to absolutely be in by 11:45 p.m. today, so sorry, and today is a day with rolling deadlines and urgent appointments and you do have a day job (and the students are e-mailing asking about FRIDAY’S assignment, and don’t they understand that it is only TUESDAY now, and we have a WHOLE CLASS between now and Friday), so you finally get to working on the grant in your first free minutes of the day, at 10 p.m. at night, thinking well, this won’t take very long, because you’re mostly just checking over other peoples’ good work, but it turns out that you don’t have access to the file (and yes, this is one reason why I often curse Google & its shared docs), but thank all the gods and little fishes that the owner of the file is awake, and has put her munchkins to bed, and is back on the computer checking if you need anything else and can give you access, and then between the two of you, you manage to find all the little things that need to be fixed (it turned out that the attachments she uploaded previously didn’t get saved in the application, so she had to upload them all again), and at 11:41, you read the message from her that it’s done, it’s in, you can both go to bed (and get up at 7 a.m. with the kiddos up and out the door to school)…



Ginger, Passionfruit & Cashew Dark Chocolates

Ginger, Passionfruit & Cashew Dark Chocolates
This is actually a reasonably healthy chocolate, I think? I was aiming for something that might be almost as healthy as trail mix, in terms of nutty protein and dried fruit, but indulgent-tasting. It came out really well! I’ve never made filled chocolates before, but it turns out that making the chocolate shells is surprisingly easy, and even fun. 🙂
I used passionfruit and ginger, because I love that combo, but you could sub in any dried fruit you liked.
NOTE: Even though there’s a photo here that shows big pieces of dried fruit in the food processor, I don’t recommend trying that, as you’ll likely just jam up your food processor and have to stop it and take everything out and reset it, the way I had to. Chop (or use scissors to cut) some first — big pieces of dried fruit are very gummy!
2 c. dark chocolate chips, melted (ideally tempered in a double boiler, but microwaving at 1/2 power and stirring every 30 seconds ’til melted also works)
• 1 c. dried passionfruit, chopped fine • 1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped • 1 c. roasted salted cashews, chopped • 2 T honey • 1/2 c. cocoa powder, sifted • 1/2 tsp coarse salt • zest of 1 orange • zest of 1 lime • 3 T mango juice
1. Fill mold with melted chocolate to the top, then turn it over the pan and let the chocolate drip out again. It should pour out quickly, and then you can flip it over and let what remains in the mold dry, creating a chocolate shell.
2. Combine chopped passionfruit, ginger, and cashews in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and mixed. Add remaining filling ingredients and pulse until well blended; it should resemble a thick paste.
3. Once the shells are dry and set, add a little bit of filling to the center of each chocolate. Pour in enough melted chocolate (re-melting or re-tempering as needed) to fill them again.
4. Let dry and set, then pop them out. Enjoy!
NOTE: You’ll have extra filling left over, quite possibly. You could make more chocolates. 🙂 But I think this would also be very nice to spoon into a brownie batter, and I might try that if we have any left over.

Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company

Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company. I went by to drop off a copy of A Feast of Serendib, to ask whether they might want to do an event there if I came back. First of all, their cookbook section is very impressive — Seattle people must like to cook! (Long, dark winters…) And check out the big dedicated section on SE Asian cooking; that tells you where you should try eating out when you’re in town. 

But the funniest bit was that way back in 1997, twenty-two years ago, I did a reading here when I was a student at Clarion West. And amazingly, the programming guy, Rick, actually remembered me from back then! How cool is that? (What I would give for a memory that worked that well…)

Rick’s even going to Sri Lanka in a few weeks, and we had a great conversation about his travels there, and about other Sri Lankan American authors he likes, and it was just very cool. I hope I can manage to fit in a Seattle trip for the book launch this year!

Looking for a food writing class

A friend is looking for a food writing class, like the one I took with Pooja Makhijani at Catapult. Suggestions? She’d love one in Chicago, but since that seems unlikely, online? Or a local workshop of people who are working on food writing, perhaps? If the latter, in the Oak Park area would be ideal for her.

Calling in sick

I’m actually calling in sick today, which I hate to do the first week of the semester — I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. But since I’m breaking into a hacking cough every three minutes or so, and I feel too woozy to drive, prudence seems the better part of valor here.

At least they have plenty of reading to do, and I just hope missing today doesn’t interrupt the bonding flow of the first few weeks too much; it’s so important to establish the right vibe and expectations with the class in those early weeks. Sigh. These mortal bodies. What can you do?


Kavi feels bad for her sick Mommy

I am so pathetic in my sickness (it’s just a cold, but a bad one), that Kavi came to me after Anand went to bed and said, “Mommy, I still have an hour until bedtime and I’ve done all my homework; are there any chores I could help you with?”

So in the last 45 minutes, she’s swept up the needles from the Christmas tree (that Kev took out earlier), sorted a big bin of miscellaneous stuff and distributed it to various places all over the house, and emptied the dishwasher.

I just told her to go ahead and go to bed, and she asked if there really wasn’t anything else I needed her to do, and I said no, it was fine, I was going to go to bed soon too, and thanks so much for all the help, and she said, “I just feel so bad for my sick Mommy.”

Like I said, I am clearly *very* pathetic right now.

But I have a perfect child, so it’s okay.

New food books

In case it’s of interest, I had a gift certificate for $200 in books, and I decided to go all in on food memoir-ish stuff. This is what I’ve ordered:

The Language of Baklava, Diana Abu Jaber
A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain
My Life in France, Julia Child
Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin
How to Cook a Wolf, MFK Fisher
Grape, Olive, Pig, Matt Goulding
Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
The Apprentice, Jacques Pepin
Tender at the Bone, Ruch Reichl
The Making of a Chef, Mark Ruhlman
Yes, Chef, Macus Samuelsson
Domesticity, Bob Shacochis
Toast, Nigel Slater
Give a Girl a Knife, Amy Thielen
Rhapsody in Schmaltz, Michael Wex

I imagine some reviews will be coming along at some point…

Let’s see if I can identify these meal photos

You know I’ve been too busy when I get months behind on posting photos from my phone. Let’s see if I can identify these meals:

a) I made a salad with roasted brussels sprouts — I remember that it was tasty, but don’t remember the occasion!

b) This was dinner in Greektown with George R.R. Martin and one of his fabulous assistants when he was in town — yumyum. (And did I feel very cool? Yes, yes I did.)


c) I think this was a poached egg in a salad with…oh, now I can’t remember. Maybe Amanda or Nara or Roshani or Kavi? Definitely at Léa up the street, I think. Good! I’m not sure if I’ve had a poached egg in a salad before; I approve.

d) Experimenting with painting edible gold dust on chocolate cookies pressed out with a fancy die-cut roller. Dust = good. Roller = good. Cookies = meh; at some point, I’d like to develop a cookie recipe I’m happier with for this kind of application. Something with a little zing to it.  Chocolate-cayenne, perhaps? Or abandon the chocolate and go for a classic lemon sugar cookie…maybe we’ll experiment for Valentine’s Day. What are V-day flavors to you, aside from chocolate? Hmm…I’m thinking passionfruit cookies are worth experimenting with!

e) This is the one that really makes my mouth water. Stringhoppers and curries. Nothing better! I can’t remember who I was eating this with, but I must have liked them a lot if I pulled out the string hoppers….