Cauliflower ‘Rice’

The experiments continue — tried cauliflower ‘rice’! I wouldn’t say I like it as well as rice, but it’s pretty okay, esp. if sautéed with a bit of ghee first, and served with a nice chicken curry and kale sambol. Feels more culturally appropriate for Sri Lankan food than shirataki, certainly.

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Tired Moms’ Night Out

I really like the new drinks-with-the-tired-moms we’re doing; very therapeutic. I feel like I’ve been a little slow getting on the mom train with this kind of activity, but I’m totally on board now.

And Cooper’s Hawk appetizer of ahi tuna sashimi is *delicious*, served with ponzu-ginger vinaigrette, avocado, radish, wasabi cream, and sriracha. If I weren’t too lazy, I would happily eat that for lunch basically every day. The crab-lobster bisque is also yum.

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Thai Yellow Curry with Shirataki Noodles

Experimenting with tofu shirataki noodles (shirataki is made of yam, and is extremely low-carb, low-calorie, and gluten-free); here I added them to a simple Thai yellow curry.
 
Take one can Maesri yellow curry paste, add one can Chaokoh coconut milk, heat in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Stir in a t. of brown sugar and a T of fish sauce. Add two frozen tilapia filets (no need to thaw), one can drained bamboo shoots, and half a pound of trimmed green beans, simmer until fish is cooked through, 10-15 minutes. That’s your basic curry; use the protein and veggies of your choice.
 
Usually I’d serve this with white rice, but I’m trying to eat a little less white rice these days (sob!), so experimented with shirataki noodles. Follow the instructions on the package — rinse noodles well and drain, toss in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain again. Then stir the noodles into the curry and serve hot.
 
I’d call this a qualified success. It doesn’t taste as good as eating the curry with rice or the kind of noodles you’d use for pad thai; the shirataki noodles retain more bounce / tooth to them, so just don’t blend into the dish as well. But that said, they’re very neutral; I ate a big plate of this and was reasonably happy with it, and will be happy to eat more tomorrow as leftovers.
 
At something like 20 calories for the entire package of noodles (of which I ate perhaps a third), it’s at the very least a good option to know about if you’re being careful about calories or carbs, or need to eat gluten-free.
 
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No Rocket Ships

It is weird writing a mainstream YA book. Some of my first readers are more used to reading and critiquing genre, and some of them get a little impatient waiting for the rocket ships or magic to show up, even though they know that’s not actually going to happen in this book. Yes, I am occasionally tempted to have my protagonist walk through a magic door into Narnia, but no.

I’m also thinking about prose style; a lot of the current YA I’m reading has a conversational prose style. Is Catcher in the Rye YA? It’s in that vein, I think. You can have an interesting voice to your protagonist, but I think doing much in the way of prose pyrotechnics otherwise would get in the way of the intimacy YA invites, the sense that you’re there with the almost-adult on their journey, that you’re in their head.

Some of my first readers would like there to be more plot tension early on, and I think I am resisting that. I’ve been reading some strong YA, and often, there just isn’t a lot of plot tension at all. It’s not really about that. A lot of it is very slow-paced, by comparison to standard commercial SF/F. I think that’s okay.

I’m not sure what YA is about. I read one definition that said YA was about realizing the adults around you were just people, and coming to terms with what that meant for you. I think that’s often part of it, but not all of it.

What do you think YA is about? (Is there really one thing that YA is about, or is it as varied in theme and purpose as adult lit?)

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Wild Animals

I’ve been up since four — woke up with my heart thumping from a bad dream. It’s sort of ridiculous in retrospect, because it wasn’t anything like my childhood nightmares of being trapped in a house with wild animals trying to eat me (for some reason, that was my recurrent nightmare in childhood, and interestingly, I got quite good at fighting the animals over time, but let’s put that aside for now).
 
My heart was thumping because I had *forgotten something on the schedule*. Specifically, I’d forgotten that I’m hosting a seed starting garden club meeting at ten a.m. today, and the person I’d inveigled into presenting would have been there for half an hour without the handouts I was supposed to print out, and without being introduced, and without the lemonade and cookies I’d planned to bring, and I felt horribly guilty and was going to throw my hair in a ponytail and pull on some jeans and jump in my car and race over to the library, which is thankfully only five minutes away, in the hope that I could get to her before her talk ended. And then I woke up, heart thumping.
 
I might have a few too many things on the schedule right now.
 
Local folks, you should come to the garden club thing. There will almost certainly actually be lemonade, cookies, and handouts. Main library, small meeting room, 10 a.m. today. Stephanie Wahlquist of West Cook Wild Ones will be talking about seed starting, and I plan to overcome my weird anxiety about seed starting and actually just try starting already, after hearing her talk.
 
I would like to set small things growing right now.
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Banand

I was reading about the $37 million dollar payment to the family in the wrongful death civil suit of Korryn Gaines. Anand came to climb into bed with us because he was too scared to go to bed on his own, which is a pretty common occurrence; he’s an imaginative kid. The world is dark and full of terrors.

So I told him a story about a kid named Banand, who loved bananas; it was a pretty silly story, and I soon had him howling with laughter, which probably woke up Kevin a little, but that’s the price of fatherhood.

When the story was done, I covered Anand’s small face in kisses, and told him to go to sleep, and tucked the covers around him. Then I lay beside him in the dark, thinking that if you paid me a million dollars for every *second* that child has been on this Earth, it would not come close to compensating me, or the world, for his loss.

Our children are literally priceless, and in America we are failing them, day by day, second by second.

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Board

Heading into the city for the Museum of Science and Industry’s board meeting. Thought y’all would be amused by my attempt to dress slightly science-y yet also professional. Look, I’m wearing a blazer! (I almost never wear blazers.) And a starry constellation shirt.

I’m not sure I really quite understand this whole board-serving thing yet, but if MSI thinks my input is helpful as they do planning for the next year, I’m happy to give a few hours of my time a couple times a year. It’s a great museum, and I spent many happy hours there as an undergrad at the U of C. Looking forward to envisioning a better future!

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Flash sale

Flash Valentine’s Sale! This is all the copies of my first book that I own (except for two I’ve saved for the kids to have when they’re much, much bigger). It’s erotica, a mix of stories and poems (and photography by Tracy Lee), and I wrote them when I was very young. I’m a little afraid to go back to read them now, because college me was very different from current me, but on the other hand, college me is still in there somewhere, as I’m realizing as I try to write a YA novel set in college.

ANYWAY, the point is, I think there are 42 copies of _Torn Shapes of Desire_ sitting in my basement, and I would like there to be fewer of them. Amazon is selling new copies for $19.95, and used copies for $4.95 — there’s also an audiobook edition there.

But what I would love to do is sell you a signed, new edition, accompanied by a handmade romantic bookmark, and if you’d like I’m happy to throw in a little digital card that you could give to your sweetie today if this is a gift (since the book won’t arrive for a few days), for the fabulous price of $10 + shipping. For $20 + shipping, I’ll include a nice selection of Sri Lankan milk toffee and chai-spiced truffles. What a deal! This offer available today only, or until 10 p.m. CST (when I go to bed). I promise to turn every book sold into flowers for my garden.

I need to go teach, so I don’t have time to set up a PayPal order form yet, but I can do that after classes. In the meantime, please e-mail mohanraj@mamohanraj.com with the subject line VALENTINE to reserve your copy; I’ll take orders as they come in.

When they’re gone, they’re gone! The publisher is long out of business, and I don’t have any way of getting more copies. (I think there were 500 printed initially, but I can’t swear to that.)

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Age appropriate

Talking to Kevin last night about the new book, he asked me what Kavi would think of it. And I told him that she was too young — my protagonist is 18, and Kavi is only 10; kids read up, but the likely reader for this book would be 15-ish. If I wanted to write something for Kavi to read soon, I’d be writing something starting at the beginning of high school, not college. And I didn’t really have anything interesting to say about high school…

Of course, once I said that, I couldn’t help thinking a little about what I would say in a high school book, if I wrote one. And actually, it wouldn’t be too hard to construct an interesting book out of my high school experience. I’m not certain what the center of it would be, or the plot, but there are all sorts of vivid scenes and details that would be fun to put in. Maybe something about desperate desire to fit in / how much you’re willing to compromise yourself in the effort.

A little brown girl at an all-girls’ prep school in Connecticut — not a completely overdone story yet, I think, and perhaps of interest to Kavi, although also very far from her own likely experience. Well, we’ll see.

Today I woke up, made tea, got kids off to the school, wrote for an hour and have a new 1200 words in the YA novel. LOVE starting the day this way. Lots of things to get through next, so onwards…

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