Perennial Arrives!

My books are here, my books are here! Woot! They look so lovely, just as I’d pictured them. Thanks to Jenn Reese for the gorgeous cover design, and to Steve Berman at Lethe Press for the beautiful overall design (I love the matte finish, Steve!).

Thanks to Lethe as well for being willing to take a chance on such an odd little book: part garden romance, part cancer memoir, part poetry collection. And illustrated by novice artist me. It’s a very personal little book, but I hope one that many of you will enjoy.

I’ll have books available with me at PenguinCon (next weekend in Southfield, MI), at the Saturday night SLF party at WisCon (Memorial Day weekend in Madison), and at the launch party in Oak Park (June 14).

There’s a slim possibility I’ll make it to Denver ComiCon, and I should be at OutWrite in D.C. in early August, and WorldCon in San Jose in mid-August.

Otherwise, I recommend buying them directly from Lethe!

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Shedding

Shed work from a few days ago — shingling the roof (you just nail the shingles down; somehow I thought it was more complicated), adding the doors and windows.

Completed shed structure, still to have doorknobs, light fixtures, window latches, painting, etc. It’s close enough to done that I can actually work in it now (though maybe still a bit chilly today); the guys will be back next week to finish it off.

I briefly thought about leaving it unpainted and letting the wood weather, but instead, we’re going to paint the body a dark shade of blue, to coordinate with the house and garage, hopefully unifying it all nicely. (It’s also letting me test out the color I’m planning to repaint the house to, when it’s time to repaint, Benjamin Moore’s _Old Navy_.)

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Martagon

Came home from teaching and DOVE into the garden. Pruned two fairy roses, three David Austin roses, including the lovely Eglantyne, which I just got a compliment on from a neighbor, who remembered how gorgeously scented it was last year. Three more neighbors complimented me while I was working, including one woman (in her 80s or so) who treated me to a little lecture on how God was so good to us to give us the beauties of nature. I may be a cheerful agnostic, but I am willing to celebrate the beauties of nature anytime.

Planted nine martagon lilies (three near the little free library, three under the tulip tree, three under the redbud — they’re notoriously a bit fickle, so we’ll see if they bloom this year). Planted one hellebore (if I keep adding 1-2 each year, I’ll eventually have a hellebore paradise) and also one wintersweet — it is a tiny 8″ thing right now, but eventually it will hopefully be a roughly 5′ wide by 8′ tall, tremendously fragrant, winter-blooming shrub. Boring the rest of the year, just a big green thing, but everyone I’ve seen who grows it says it’s worth it for the winter flowers / scent. We’ll see! My winter garden is pretty minimal right now, and it’d be nice to give people something to enjoy on their walk to the train.

SO GOOD getting out into the garden for a bit. Need to check the forecast now — if we’re done with overnight freezing temps, tomorrow, I think I may move my potted dahlias outside to start soaking up some sun.

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Revisioning

Thanks to Andy Wilson, Greg Bennett, Veronica Arreola, Harmony Scofield, Kat Tanaka Okopnik, Patricia Campbell, Morrisa Sherman, Eva, Greg Bennett, Swati Joshi, Carolyn Charron for their comments on my short story, “Paper Star.” It’s an odd little piece, but I am fond of it, and I finally got around to implementing their revision notes this morning (only about oh, a year and a half after they sent them, sigh).

I think I’m going to show the latest draft to Jed today, see what he thinks, whether it’s ready to go out, or maybe needs another pass through my local writing workshop. (I did the original draft long enough ago that I can’t remember if I actually showed this to them — Julie, do you remember a story about a young woman who worked in a visa processing office on Kriti?)

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Bloody Passion Marshmallows

(45 minutes + cooling time, serves dozens)

Love the tang of the blood orange here, cutting the fruity sweetness of the passionfruit marshmallows

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1/4 c. passionfruit puree (from frozen is fine)
1/4 c. blood orange juice (about one orange)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
butter (for greasing the pan)
yellow or orange food coloring (optional)
red food coloring for marbling (optional)

1. Empty gelatin packets into bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment), with passionfruit puree and blood orange juice. Stir briefly to combine.

 

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.

 

3. Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

4. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes. Add food coloring, if using for the whole batch, during this stage.

5. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Prepare an oiled spatula for later.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula. (You can add a few drops of red food coloring and drag a knife through them, to create a marbled effect.)

7. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula. dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar, using additional if necessary. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen.

  

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Chocolate-Dipped Passionfruit Marshmallows

(45 minutes + cooling time + 30 minutes for dipping, serves dozens)

I’d start these the day before you want them finished, because you need to let them cool for quite a while before cutting and dipping (and then they’ll need maybe 30 more minutes before serving). But not too much in advance, because homemade marshmallows maintain texture best when fresh (though they can keep for about three weeks in a sealed container, or can even be frozen). Plan appropriately!

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1/2 c. passionfruit puree (from frozen is fine)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
butter (for greasing the pan)
yellow or orange food coloring (optional)
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips

1. Empty gelatin packets into bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment), with passionfruit puree. Stir briefly to combine.

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.

3. Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

4. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes. Add food coloring, if using for the whole batch, during this stage.

5. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Prepare an oiled spatula for later.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula.

7. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

8. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into squares. As you’re cutting, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar, using additional if necessary. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen. They’re delicious straight up at this point, if you don’t want to dip them.

9. Dip in melted chocolate chips (melt in microwave on 50% power for a few minutes, in 30 second bursts, stirring in between); add sprinkles if desired, then lay on wax paper to dry for about 30 minutes.

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Passionfruit & Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

(45 minutes + cooling time, serves dozens)

Using vanilla bean gives a strong vanilla flavor — you can cut the amount in half if you’d prefer it milder, or leave it out entirely.

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1/2 c. passionfruit puree (from frozen is fine)
1 vanilla bean, split and the seeds scraped out
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
butter (for greasing the pan)
yellow or orange food coloring (optional)

1. Empty gelatin packets into bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment), with passionfruit puree. Stir briefly to combine.

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.

3. Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

4. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes. Add food coloring, if using for the whole batch, during this stage.

5. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Prepare an oiled spatula for later.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula.

7. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

8. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into squares. As you’re cutting, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar, using additional if necessary. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen.

OPTIONAL: Dip in melted white chocolate chips (melt in microwave on 50% power for a few minutes, in 30 second bursts, stirring in between), and coat in sprinkles; lay on wax paper to dry.

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Mango-Lime Marshmallows

(45 minutes + cooling time, serves dozens)

These make very fluffy, mousse-like marshmallows, because there’s a component to mango that resists setting. I’m told that if you cook the mango first, it’ll set more firmly, but I like them this way!

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1/3 c. mango puree (canned is fine)
3 T lime juice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
butter (for greasing the pan)
orange food coloring (optional)

1. Empty gelatin packets into bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment), with mango puree and lime juice. Stir briefly to combine.

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.

3. Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

4. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes. Add food coloring, if using for the whole batch, during this stage.

5. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Prepare an oiled spatula for later.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula.

7. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

8. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into squares. As you’re cutting, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining superfine sugar, using additional if necessary. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen.

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Passionate

My kitchen smells gorgeously of passionfruit. It’s Pooja Makhijani‘s fault — I was going to go to sleep, but I finished her online food writing class (first session), and just had to cook something. So, experimenting with passionfruit-vanilla marshmallows it is.

I kind of want to try to make three different kinds of passionfruit marshmallows actually:

– Vanilla Passion (with vanilla bean, and very little food coloring, so it’s nice and pale, possibly dipped in white chocolate)
– Chocolate Passion (straight-up passionfruit, but dipped in dark chocolate)
– Bloody Passion (passionfruit & blood orange)

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