Lunch date with Kevin at Mama Thai

(Can I encourage Americans to make a little extra effort to patronize Chinese restaurants esp. but also generally Asian restaurants right now? News reports that they’re getting hit with a notable downturn in customer business across the U.S. due to unfounded coronavirus fears.)

Lunch date with Kevin at Mama Thai, which is a convenient two block walk away (if that). The lunch special (small appetizer, small soup, entree) is actually too much food for us if we both order it; we ended up taking the potstickers home for Anand, who adores them.

And because I added their steamed shumai off the main menu (which I adore and cannot resist — sometimes I just get myself two orders of shumai for dinner), we ended up taking the green curry chicken and rice home too, and ate it for dinner.

I did doctor it a bit — it was a little watery for my taste (I’m guessing they have a big vat of it going for the lunch special, which is totally reasonable, but means it’s not their best cooking generally). So I cooked it down for another 5-10 minutes on the stovetop and stirred the rice in, which took it to just the concentrated spicy green goodness I was craving. I would’ve taken a photo, but I ate it too fast. 

It’s not the smilingest photo of Kevin, but I include it because he is carefully taking all the mushrooms out of his tom yum soup and putting them in my bowl. It is sad that he doesn’t appreciate mushrooms, but on the other hand, MOAR mushrooms for me…

Amaryllis

 

Stephanie may have arrived for our work session yesterday morning to find me standing on my kitchen island, taking this shot of the amaryllis.  It’s just SO symmetrical! (Vaguely annoyed with self for not adjusting stake to make the stem completely centered in the pot…but that way lies madness, Mary Anne.)

 

Hm. Wish I’d paid enough attention to have the focus on the flower, not the background, for this shot. Oh well. I’m getting better with my phone photography, but it’s a slow process, esp. when I get distracted and rushed.

 

 

 

Amaryllis “Arctic Nymph.” I like that very faint blush of pink on the white petals. Good name for this one!

Valentine’s present

Valentine’s present for Kev and the kids: 30 minutes with fresh strawberries, dried apples, pears, mangos, crystallized ginger, and four kinds of chocolate. 

*****

Same as previous, plus 30 minutes more, drizzled chocolate, powdered dehydrated raspberries, and fresh raspberries stuffed with white chocolate chips. Everything but the ruby chocolate (which I get on Amazon in a big bag) picked up this afternoon at Target. 

ADD meds note

ADD meds note — doc said yes, it was reasonable to try adding a micro dose of Adderall to see if that eases the 4-ish ‘cranky crash’ that I’ve been experiencing when the day’s dose of Vyvanse wears off. Started it today, taking it at 1 p.m. (She wants me to be sure to take it by 2, if I’m taking it, to hopefully avoid interfering with sleep).

6 p.m. now, feel great! Not cranky! Not feeling too stressed out / tired to do anything! Don’t feel like I have to avoid my family for an hour or two to get past the crash period. Success so far.

We’ll see if it interferes with sleeping tonight (but even if it does, will likely keep trying it for a week, give my body a chance to adjust).

At the Oak Park Community Foundation

After the SLF meeting (where Karen, Julia, and I got a surprising amount done — ALL the interviews are now off my computer and on the Google Drive, ready to be edited, so they should start showing up here soon, for one, AND we got started on the illustrator database, AND I publicized the first chapter meeting happening this weekend, etc.), I walked up to the Carleton for a reception for the Oak Park Community Foundation.

It was interesting — they were mostly talking about the fund performance, which is of only academic interest to me at the moment, since we opened a SLF fund with them only so we could take stock gifts — the stocks were donated to the fund, translated into cash for us, and we immediately took them out and moved them to our bank account for use in paying out grants and paying our new part-time staff. (Our Working Class Writers’ Grant is closing at the end of the month, reminder. Get those (free to apply) grant applications in!)

So when they were talking about having had a very good year growing everyone’s investments, I could only sigh wistfully and imagine what it would be like to have a $100k endowment for the SLF, that might grow from year to year. At some point, perhaps we will run a capital campaign, but we’re pretty far from that point right now.

I’m starting to gear up for our spring membership drive, and our goals are much more modest there — if we can collect 125 new members this spring, each paying $2 / month, that translates to $24 / year each, or $3000 / year total. That’ll give us enough money to ensure that I can keep paying the part-time staff for a few more months, and afford the editing services for the interviews we plan to put online for the Portolan Project (our attempt at crowdfunding free creative writing instruction).

So we’re a long way from an endowment! But I’m glad I went, even if I didn’t get a 19% return on an investment like everyone else in the room. (Sigh.) If we do get to a point where we can try to grow the SLF in that direction, it’s good to know that the OPRF Community Foundation seems quite capable in this regard. (Alex Gurevich, I saved their financial materials to show you when I get a chance; would be interested to hear your take.)

(As a side note, they also hold a fund for the library, so in my capacity as library trustee, it was interesting to think about that, and how if the library chooses to pursue more donations along those lines, what it might look like, in terms of cultivating donor relationships, etc. FYI, David J. Seleb, Matt Fruth.)

A nice end to what started as a hard day.

Signing a contract tonight for an interesting project that I can’t talk about for a year, which is really not the sort of thing I normally do. Secrets — not my thing! But this is for a good cause, so will do. I’m going to try to mostly forget about it! It does come with a bit of cash, so that’s always good. I’ll tell y’all about it when I can.

A nice end to what started as a hard day.

First official meeting of the Speculative Literature Foundation

Hey, folks. So we’re having our first official meeting of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s first official chapter this Sunday. (At my house.) Woot!

In 2020, Chicago chapter membership will be free; we’d love to get together with other folks (readers, writers, parents, teens, teachers, and more) who love science fiction, fantasy, superheroes, fairy tales, folklore — anything with a fantastical or speculative element.

We’ve been running a reading series (Deep Dish) in Chicago at Volumes Cafe for the past three years, but we want to do more. What exactly? It depends on what chapter members are excited to have happen — SF/F book club? Writing workshop? Lit festival? Something else we haven’t thought of?

We’re excited to bring even more events and programs to the Chicagoland area but need your help and ideas to grow even bigger.

Food, friends, drinks and games. (I’ll be cooking.  )

*****

3 – 5PM: Open Meeting to discuss plans for the 2020 season. Refreshments will be served.

5 – 8PM: Potluck dinner, games and break outs to discuss the craft of writing, networking and all around hanging out.

*****

Please RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/913060129112864/

• If you can’t make it this Sunday, but want to be sure to stay informed about the Chicago chapter activities, join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/slfchicagochapter/

• You can also sign up for the SLF newsletter here: http://speculativeliterature.org/newsletter/

• Or follow us on Twitter! https://twitter.com/speclit

Sunday dinner: sushi

Sunday dinner was Kavi’s turn, and she picked sushi, which is sort of a funny choice, given that the only sushi she has historically been willing to even try are California rolls. But okay. Kevin doesn’t eat fish, Anand wasn’t sure he wanted to even try sushi, so this was going to be interesting.

But it actually turned out okay, in large part because I got my groceries at H Mart, which is I think mostly Korean with a good supply of Japanese. They had everything I needed in easy packaging, including some already marinated beef, which Kevin could grill for us, and which I was pretty sure would be a reliable way to feed Anand. (They also had both American cucumber and Korean cucumber — the latter is lovely, with a delicate, sweet flavor.)

The kids were startled by the intense scent of the seasoned rice vinegar hitting the rice — we almost lost them then.

But they had a blast deciding what they wanted to put on their sushi, and rolling it up. Whew. Anand went for the sweet omelette, grilled meat, and bell pepper. Kavi was indignant that they’d made eggs sweet — she was not expecting that. She didn’t even try for a California roll, in the end, going for beef, bell pepper, and avocado. Kevin did cucumber and avocado, and I indulged myself with salmon, avocado, cucumber, and tobiko.

The kids did not try the wasabi, soy sauce, or pickled ginger. We’re going to have to ease them into other cuisines, clearly.

The kids loved getting to be artistic with their food. Anand hit upon the idea of using tobiko (which he had no intention of eating) to decorate his plate, and Kavi was envious that he’d managed to coordinate the tobiko, the bell pepper, and his orange shirt.

(I ended up eating his tobiko. No food waste in this house!)

Overall, the kids probably liked the flavors of this the least of the 6 family dinners we’ve done so far this year (Daddy’s baked chicken wrapped in cheese and prosciutto is the standout hit so far), but they did eat enough to count as a meal, which was good. And they want to do it again, which is great — a lot of this is simple unfamiliarity. If we keep having food from other cuisines, their palates should get more accustomed.

 

Fingers crossed, anyway. I *love* sashimi, so the more I can get them headed in that direction, the happier I’ll be. I was in my 20s the first time I had sushi, and the guy I was dating had to coax me in with California rolls because I was intimidated by the raw fish concept. How things have changed!

(We don’t usually have phones at the table for family dinner, but in this photo, Kavi is photographing her food for her Instagram feed. Like mother, like daughter…)

 

Quick question primarily for vegetarians/vegans

Quick question (primarily for vegetarians / vegans).

Some of you may remember that I did two little mini cookbooks before Feast, The Marshmallows of Serendib and Vegan Serendib. I thought to keep the price point low on those e-books, so they’re more samplers — marshmallows is just 13 recipes, and vegan is 41 recipes. The vegan one is priced at $5.99 currently. (Marshmallows is $2.99).

I was thinking about it more, and I keep feeling like heck, at least half of Feast is already vegan (as is much Sri Lankan cuisine by nature, esp. since we use coconut milk instead of cow milk). Maybe I should just do another edition of that book, and put ALL the vegan recipes from Feast in there?

I’d already been thinking about doing this for a while, and then last night I just read an article about the vegan race wars in Nosrat’s Best American Food Writing 2019: “The Vegan Race Wars: How the Mainstream Ignores Vegans of Color” (Khusbhu Shah). (Recommended, fairly short: https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/vegan-race-wars-white-veganism) Which emphasized to me that it’d be good to have more visible representation in America of vegan cuisine from other parts of the world.

But if I do put ALL the vegan recipes from Feast in this vegan e-book, it does undercut the main book sales. (As a reminder, I have 2000 hardcover print copies sitting in a warehouse right now. Eep.) To avoid that, I should probably raise the price to something closer to the ebook price for Feast? (Mascot Books — I don’t see a pre-order page for Feast ebook on Amazon — am I missing it? Jed, do you know?)

WHAT’S THE ACTUAL QUESTION, MARY ANNE?

I guess this is a question mostly for vegans (I’m not sure whom I know who is vegan, aside from Swati?) and maybe vegetarians:

Would you be interested in buying a 100+ recipe vegan version of Feast of Serendib, at something like $9.99 for the ebook? With a possible print edition to follow eventually, if there’s interest and I have time? (Really, more if Stephanie Bailey and Heather Rainwater Campbell have time, as I suspect much of the production work would fall to them.)

Or should I just stop thinking about this and just leave the little vegan sampler up there as is? (We’re going to have our Feast cover designer Jeremy John Parker change the cover regardless, to make it look more like the Feast cover and less like something I hacked together on Canva, so I have to upload a new edition anyway, which is another part of why I’m thinking about all this.)

Small version already up:  https://smile.amazon.com/Vegan-Serendib-Small-Lankan-Cookbook-ebook/dp/B07GRDVTX3