Typing Without the Pain

I can type again today without pain, huzzah, though I’m going to try to minimize it for a while longer, I think, given that yesterday, typing still hurt a bit. Hand doctor appointment yesterday was interesting — he showed me the calcification on the X-ray (at the leftmost point of the wrist, see the ghostly spot?).

It’s been improving steadily with immobilization (hooray for the Walgreens brace Kevin picked up for me); I can almost cut vegetables again too, though I’m still mostly having Kavi and Kevin do that for me. The wrist is still weak — I was trying to transfer lentils into the green tomato chutney yesterday, and ended up dropping the pot into the chutney, so that wasn’t ideal. Make haste more slowly, Mary Anne.

But definitely getting better. Doc says to watch it for a month. If it gets worse, let him know — there’s a sequence of treatments they can try: physical therapy, then if that doesn’t work, steroid injections, then if that doesn’t work, surgery. But if it’s improving this much on its own, I probably won’t need any of that. Fingers crossed. (I can cross my fingers now too. 🙂)

The Vegan Serendib Timeline

I woke up thinking about how goofy it was to be pushing so hard to get out Vegan Serendib for Christmas. I mean, yes, we COULD do it, and Christmas sales are significant. But it would be very hard, and not done well in terms of promotion.

I ended up sending this message to the Serendib Press team on Slack, copying it here in case anyone is interested in how a teeny tiny press figures out a little bit more about how we ought to be doing things.

We’ll make it to professional eventually. Someday, I’d love to publish other peoples’ books too, but I figure we should make all the mistakes on my books first. 🙂

*****

Hey, team. So I’ve been thinking about the timeline for Vegan Serendib and I think it’s putting too much time pressure on all of us to get that done, especially me and Stephanie, and there’s really no reason we have to have it for Christmas. We might get a few extra Christmas sales, but it’s not worth doing it badly or killing ourselves.

So I had another thought — since this is the second edition, one thing we could do is set a launch date for say, May 1, 2021, which gives us a proper six-month timeline for promotion. You can start working now on the press releases for that, and start sending them in the next few weeks, giving us a chance at some magazine coverage. We won’t have physical copies to send out right away, but should have them by end of the year, I think.

And then another thing we can do is start taking pre-orders AND say that anyone who pre-orders we’ll immediately send them a digital copy of the first sampler edition of Vegan Serendib (bonus), so they can start cooking right away. Then they’ll get the full volume next May. I think overall, that makes a lot more sense. What do you think?

If we do this, then I think the next step is to ask Stephanie to go back through what we did for Feast, and make a calendar for what we’re aiming to have done each month in the next six months. Some of the things:

OCT/NOV:
finalize 40 new recipes (MA)
retake photos as needed (MA)
revise intro materials (MA)
talk to Ingram Spark and figure out what they need and when (Stephanie)
draft new press release for Vegan (Stephanie?)
draft back cover copy for Vegan (Stephanie?)
ask Jeremy John Parker to do final cover design (and pay him) (Stephanie)
figure out who we want to send copies to for review (Stephanie)
put up pre-order page for Vegan (Stephanie?)

plan some kind of holiday promotion for both books (Stephanie)

DEC:
redo interior design (Stephanie)
re-index (can we do this in house? Anyone here interested in learning how to index?)

copyedit and proofread (Darius or Emmanuel or both? check with Jed re: errors from Feast we want to correct here too)

EVERY MONTH:
keep making cooking videos — maybe one every two weeks (MA and Darius)

start writing food essays and sending them out (MA, who needs deadlines for this clearly, so maybe one every two weeks)

JAN/FEB/MAR/APR/MAY (promotion):
set up virtual cooking classes?
book more virtual events?

depending on COVID, maybe an outdoor in-person event in May for launch day?

And heck, while we’re calendaring, we can look ahead to the NEXT book, which should be Gluten-Free Serendib. Let’s say we aim for December 1, 2021 launch of that.

JAN/FEB/MAR:

develop recipes for GF (MA)

APR/MAY:
design / index / copyedit / proofread book (Stephanie and team)

draft press releases for GF, update press database, send out first wave

etc…

Green Tomato and Lentil Curry

(45 minutes, serves 4 as entree, 8 as a side)

Green tomatoes are a lovely end-of-summer curry on their own, beautifully tangy, but add some lentils and you have a complete and nutritious meal. It’s perfect with a little rice or bread, or just on its own. In Sri Lanka, earthy red lentils (masoor dal) are most common, and have the advantage of cooking in half the time of most lentils; you could certainly use them in this dish. But I like split mung lentils here; they have a mild, sweet flavor.

Dal:
1 cup split mung lentils (moong dal or payatham paruppu)
½ tsp turmeric
cinnamon stick
1 dried red chili, broken into pieces
1 c. coconut milk (optional; you can cook in water if preferred)
1 c. water (plus more as needed)

1/2 t. salt

Green Tomato Curry:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 t. vegetable oil
1 t. black mustard seeds
1 t. cumin seed
1 t. fenugreek seeds
1 stalk curry leaves (about a dozen)
5 medium green tomatoes, chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 t. salt

chopped cilantro to garnish

1. Add 1 c. split mung lentils to a saucepan (with a lid). Add turmeric, cinnamon stick, chili, coconut milk, water, and 1/2 t. salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then turn to medium-low and continue cooking until the lentils are very tender and soft, about 40 minutes. (This can be sped up in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.) Check periodically and add more water if needed to keep lentils from sticking to the pan. (If they do start to stick, just scrape them up — as long as they don’t actually start to burn, they should be fine.)

2. In a separate pot, sauté onion in oil with mustard seed, cumin seed, feungreek seeds, and curry leaves, until onions are golden-translucent.

3. Stir in chopped green tomatoes, cover and turn heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes.

4. Add the cooked dal to the tomatoes, along with any remaining cooking water. Let the tomatoes and dal come to a boil. Taste, and adjust seasonings to taste — you might add a little more salt, or some lime juice, or more coconut milk.

5. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off heat and add chopped cilantro to garnish.

A Girl Can Dream

What I really want to be doing right now is designing a wallpaper for our guest room. I’m thinking something green and forest/jungle-ish. I can print it at Spoonflower. But wallpaper is a big commitment, so it’ll require quite a bit of time to design. And that is definitely not what I should be doing right now — right now, all I am allowed to do is grade and teach, write recipes, and work on my Wild Cards stories, which are due in a few weeks.

But a girl can dream a little…what I’d really like to do is a vining pattern with little animals, birds, flowers, etc. And if some of the animals are mythological, that’d be okay with me…

(Please ignore the big stack of papers — that’s part of an office excavation. Those are sorted now; 2-3 more stacks to go.)

If You’d Like to Visit Kriti

Vintage travel tea towel, complete. In the last draft, added a golden glow and a little flyer. Mock-up of tea towel as it’d print through Spoonflower, as well as the original design.

Travel is pretty limited right now, of course, but If you’d like to visit Kriti, you can read stories set there here:

http://maryannemohanraj.com/science-fiction-fantasy/

🙂

And now, off to the hand doctor, to see if I can get a more concrete diagnosis for my wrist. It’s much better with immobilization, but typing is still a problem, as is carrying things, slicing veggies, etc. No more blinding pain, though, so that’s good — more just unpleasant twinges.

Breaks Can Be Productive

Jeez, grading papers is somehow even harder than usual. I generally make a big stack, put it in sets of 4, and then give myself a break between every 4 papers. Today, I want a break after every paper. Which will make grading spread over three days instead of one.

Nose, meet grindstone. C’mon, there’s got to be some discipline around here somewhere…

(On the plus side, this autumn lady mask came out just as beautifully as I thought it would. Love this pattern by Cecilia Mok! https://www.spoonflower.com/…/6744127-autumn-woods-by…

Breaks can be productive…)