20 December 2009
D. played inside. Jack Russells do not like the snow. It was rather funny - he would be so excited to go out... and the we would open the door. He would sniff the snow and then look back over his shoulder at us, and sniff and look and sniff and look. Hilarity ensued. And then, after outdoor business had been taken care of, he would quickly do anything and everything to eradicate all traces of the snow.
So, this morning the view from our windows was worthy of a snow snob's expectations. Neighbor's car buried, window's obscured, snow mounded everywhere. It is beautiful. From inside.
The official report from Regan National Airport was 15 inches, breaking the previous record of 7 from 1945. Alexandria measured 19 inches. Our back yard has drifts well over two feet.
I guess they know how to do snow here, too.
17 December 2009
Maybe it will be good for other things than just getting in shape. Lots of people say that it is the best time to write. And here I am at 6:16 composing a reasonably lucid blog post. I do want to write more. Maybe now I will actually write down the things I used to compose in my head as I would try to fall asleep. And I am constantly lamenting that I don't have all the time to read that it would take to finish my absurdly long to-be-read list, so maybe this can be that time.
It will be hard to completely reset my bodies rhythm, though. I am, or at least I have always been, a night person. So maybe, by getting up this early I am actually losing time, time that was productive for me in the evenings, at night. Time that it will now be necessary to try and sleep. How does an insomniac handle 5:20 am? What will it be like to get up not long after I finally settle into sleep? But if we are going to do this together - and, to be honest, I probably wouldn't do it by myself - this is the time it has to be so G. can get to work on time. So, 5:20 am...
We have been meaning for a week to make this dish. It is something of a specialty for G. She discovered it watching a cooking show with our grandmother in 2003. All we have to re-create it are a few somewhat cryptic notes that Grandma took while watching. The recipe is for shrimp, but we frequently make it with chicken, or in this case Quorn, the closest vegetarian meat-substitute I have ever encountered, and I have searched far and wide. Really, it tastes like chicken... and it's meant to.
Here is the recipe that we have come up with... It's not perfect yet, and G. maintained her title of Little Miss Picky-pants, stating however good it was, it didn't taste quite right and we would have to try again to get it closer to how she remembered it. Until then...
1 package orzo pasta (other small pastas work, too, like mini-bowties)
1 package fresh baby spinach, shredded
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1 package grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp fresh basil, shredded
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 package Quorn cutlets, cubed small (or raw shrimp, peeled and deveined)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Boil pasta according to package directions; drain; place in large bowl. Add in spinach, 1/2 the lemon zest, and the grape tomatoes; stir; add basil, salt and pepper; stir. Heat oil in a skillet; sauté garlic; add red pepper flakes and the rest of the zest. Heat for 30 seconds; add cutlet cubes (or shrimp), and sauté until cooked. Add lemon juice to deglaze the pan and toss immediately with the pasta mixture. Serve warm.
09 December 2009
But beyond these rather philosophical and difficult questions I have also changed the way I think about putting a meal together. Vegetarians, like all of us, want a meal, not a collection of side dishes. I think about what goes into satisfying the people I feed, and how I can do that without basing it on meat. This means I have so many options that I never considered before, and may have never considered if I wasn't cooking for a vegetarian. This thought process was compounded by living with a vegan two years. It has fundamentally changed how I compose with food. There are moments when it strikes me, and I feel like a painter who was only painting with half the colours and now I have a full palette - and yes, the pun was intended and I am not sorry.
So for dinner we had a tikka curry with potatoes, veggies, and paneer. With saffron rice. And it was lovely. Six years ago I never would have thought to put this meal together.
06 December 2009
A list of food-related books which I would like to read:
- I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci
- The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis by Tara Austen Weaver
- Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard W. Wrangham
- The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family by Laura Schenone
- A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances by Laura Schenone
- From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food Studies: Critical Perspectives on Women And Food by Arlene Voski Avakian (Editor), Barbara Haber (Editor)
- The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
- Nigella Lawson: A Biography by Gilly Smith
- The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater by Nigel Slater
- Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West by Beatrice Hohenegger
- Tea: The Drink that Changed the World by Laura C. Martin
- The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide by Mary Lou Heiss
- Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene
- My Life in France by Alex Prud'homme, Julia Child
- Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch
- American Food Writing: An Anthology: With Classic Recipes by Molly O'Neill (Editor)
- Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution by Thomas McNamee
- A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg
- The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
- Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table, a Collection of Essays form The New York Times by Amanda Hesser
- The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire, and Ambition by John DeLucie
- Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life by Mimi Sheraton
- What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison
- Amarcord: Marcella Remembers by Marcella Hazan
- Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton
- The Recipe Writer's Handbook, Revised and updated by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann
- Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris by A. J. Liebling
- Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
- More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
- The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: My Adventures in Life and Food by Moira Hodgson
30 November 2009
We started the day with mimosas and a cheese platter, and the celebratory tone was set for the day. When we moved into the dinning room, the food was quite simply amazing. The turkey was moist and perfect, the traditional sides were familiar and comforting, and the new flavors were truly inspiring. The cranberries were done in a compote with pears, a brilliant combination. And M.'s sister brought a sweet potato dish that was to die for. Seriously, if I hadn't been able to bring some home I think I might have cried. And even better, she shared the recipe! There was a creamy potato casserole that I had never had before and was perfect when combined with the bacon and green beans. And the desserts - Italian fruit tarts, cheesecake, chocolate cake, cherry pie, and of course, pumpkin pie. I had to wait a while for dessert though, because my eyes were bigger than my stomach when it came to everything else.
All day, the house was full of the noise of people enjoying each others company. The energy and positive emotion filled it to the brim. This was a place full of people celebrating the mere presence of those around them - whether they had met before or not, and several of us hadn't.
And did I mention that the food was fantastic. This is one of the the few Thanksgivings since I was 16 that I was not a major contributor to the table, and the first since before I was 10 that I didn't do anything at all to make it come out wonderful. All we brought was cheese for the cheese tray, and G. picked that out. I came away from that table thankful for more than just the food that was prepared for me. I now have fabulous new recipes to try for my relatives at Christmas. But more importantly I have new friends, and I can't think of a superlative that does justice to the quality of people who shared this holiday of gratitude with us - the family that opened their home and the friends that they brought into it along side me and my sisters. It was without a doubt a Thanks-giving day.
25 November 2009
Nota bene: you can get a heart-shaped tea cup here. I haven't tried them, but they are clever.
19 November 2009
Even Giada's cooking demo - which I must say, was beyond fabulous - was more inspiring than instructive - not that she wasn't, but that her instructions were things I already knew. Still, an aisle seat 4 rows away from one of my favorite celebrity chef - it bears repeating: coolest sisters ever! The pasta she made was something I had been doing for a few years, only she used butternut squash and I use pumpkin. Several times I kept thinking things like, that's a good idea, but we don't eat pork, I wonder how it would work with chicken or G. doesn't like basalmic vinegar, so I would have to substitute a different acid. (By the way, we discovered this weekend that G. is not in fact crazy and does like balsamic vinegar - she had just never had balsamic vinegar that met her picky standards before.) I kept thinking how I would tweek her recipes to suit the tastes of the people I cook for, all the while being wonderfully entertained by her fabulous personality.
Really, what I took away from the show was a renewed confidence in my abilities as a home cook. I know the people I cook for, and that intimacy of knowledge allows me to create food that is more suited to them. And being able to walk away from the show knowing that, for the most part, my food tastes just as good as the jars and mixes that people pay for (sometimes way too much) - to me that is what being a domestic goddess is all about.
13 November 2009
The other day we discovered that we had an over-abundance of bread in the house. Apparently we had stopped eating sandwiches for lunch, for no apparent reason. My offer to make bread pudding was met with surprising enthusiasm - I thought I was the only one who liked it, but apparently my sisters both love it as well. Who knew.
So after consulting several variations here is what I did.
350g bread, roughly cubed (I used potato and oatmeal breads)
3/4 - 1 cup raisins
3 egg yokes
350 g or ¾ cup sugar
750 mL or 3 cups milk
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Grease a 2 qt. baking dish. Cut up bread and spread in dish; sprinkle in the raisins. In a bowl mix remaining ingredints until mostly smooth - the cheese was still in pieces about 1/8 inch and a little smaller. Pour over the bread and raisins; press down the bread with a spatuala or spoon until all the bread is covered and wet. Let it stand on the counter and soak up the custard for about ½ an hour/ Bake at 350º for 1 - 1 ¼ hrs, until puffy and firm in center. Let stand for 10 min to set. Serve warm or cold.
G. and M. cut into it as soon as the cooling timer went off, so I didn't have time to make the Amaretto sauce I was going to pour over it (or take pictures of the whole pan), but it turns out that was ok. They loved it as is and so did I. The sauce would have been tasty, but the pudding was tasty on its own. Maybe next time.
07 November 2009
No, my writing problem is not in the research. It is in the argument. I struggle to get from "hey, look at this cool stuff I found" to some sort of meaning. It is not that I don't make connections and synthesize the information that I love to gather, I do. But articulating the connections I see, and the kicker - proving them textually, that is hard for me. Maybe it is because I am such a non-linear thinker, so research webs work for me, but an organized argument cuts off all these really cool possibilities. Or maybe it is my lamentable tendency to feel that if I can see it, every one can see, and why should I have to prove the obvious?
Sometime I think it might be easier if I wrote fiction instead, but I don't really think it would be. In fiction, there still needs to be a narrative arch. So much of the cool information that leads to building real and believable characters never makes it in to the story. At least with academic writing you get the footnotes for tangents. Either way I am still left with the problem of turning a fascinating matrix of thoughts and information into a clear, progressive argument or narrative.
06 November 2009
Food and Religion in Nora Roberts’s Three Sisters Island Trilogy
Many religions involve the use of food both on a symbolic level and on a practical level. After celebrating the Eucharistic meal, Catholics meet in the fellowship hall for coffee and doughnuts. The Passover Seder combines ritual and nourishment to create community with Jews from centuries ago. Baptists’ Wednesday night bible study follows a potluck supper. Wiccans record their Sabbat ritual spells along side family recipes in their Book of Shadows. Food is used in all these cases to both cement common beliefs and to establish and maintain community. These elements of a shared belief system and community are necessary elements for an emotionally satisfying and believable love story. The religious aspects in Nora Roberts’s Three Sisters Island Trilogy demonstrate food as an integral part of the foundations of community and belief. She also shows food to be just as essential to the relationships that develop over the course of the books.
Roberts sets the three love stories against a background of a struggle for good and evil. This timeless conflict is acted out in terms of three good hereditary witches facing progressively stronger evils, and the community of couples fighting evil forces comes together over food. In this paper I will look at how and why this group comes together over food. What is it about Modern Pagan Witchcraft that lends itself to the incorporation of food? What do these stories tell us about why people share food? I plan to explore the questions of how food factors into their struggle to win over evil and how it shapes the relationships that develop along the way.
What do you think, sound interesting?
05 November 2009
Daylight savings time, in addition to making it feel like winter is really here, has for the first time ever succeeded in completely ruining my lazy sleep schedule. So much so that I wake up, without the benefit of an alarm before 8 am. I wasn't even sure a before-8-am existed prior to this - I thought it was a myth. This change has been wonderfully constructive, and I am going to attempt to keep it up. A fitting resolution for the Celtic new year. I have actually been getting things accomplished, and I want to spread that productive spirit to this thought repository.
So, in a fit of creative determination, I have decided to combine the two blogs that I have created. I update with lamentable infrequency, and spreading those posts over two blogs reduces their numbers even more. So from now on there will just be this blog. All my food post will be here, all my scholarly posts, all my pop culture posts, all my random posts... well, you get the idea. This does shift the theme of my postings somewhat, but really it fits with this blog completely - food and books and pop culture and complete randomness are what les pensée de la fleur contain, and as such are what should be reflected here - not divided and relegated to a separate space. And sadly I am no longer feeding the flock, the flock has scattered, everyone going their own ways and starting their own enclaves of irreverence.
This change will hopefully let me be less splintered in both my writing style and my online presence in general, though I don't delude myself into thinking that it will make me an internet celebrity or anything like that. Which is fine. I have always said that I would rather be rich than famous anyway, and I don't think that bothersome fame will arise out of these nebulous future posts. And the reality is blogging is not what makes you rich, sad but true.
Instead I will - hopefully - get a creative outlet, and - again hopefully - this outlet will help me to focus and create a more disciplined writing habit. Now those of you who know me probably just laughed out loud to see discipline in reference to me (if you've stumbled here by mistake, it's true - I am a slacker of the first order). However, I do want to write - papers for my classes, articles, eventually my dissertation, and maybe a book some day. These all require that I write with some consistency, possibly even regularity. So I think that creating a writing habit will be easier, and let's face it- I am reliably all about easier, if that habit had a locus, a central depository. I am not going to make any wild promises about increased updates or daily posts, but I am putting my aspirations out here, publicly, in an attempt to motivate myself to achieve those aspirations. Goals, not guilt...
Well, we'll see...
ETA: I imported the posts from my food blog, so all the food and recipes are on here now. I am in the process of going back through the archives and working out the duplicates. I also plan on working out a recipe list page.
13 October 2009
Last night I want to see The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. It was an experience that was both moving and surreal. I was not in Laramie when Matthew Shepard was killed. I was one of two students from Wyoming at a small, Catholic college in Ohio. I spent weeks saying that is not what we are like in Wyoming, not everyone hates and for sure, not everyone is murderous. It was a frustrating experience, because I knew that the small Ohio town I was in was not anymore “ok” with gay people than the state they were vilifying, the small Catholic college was not “ok” with gay people either.
When I moved to Laramie, long before I met, became friends with people who knew the man, the effects of the tragedy of Matthew Shepard’s death were apparent. Hate was not ok – in certain pockets of safe space - but it was not always silent, either. The “it’s time to move on” contingent was already making noises in 2001. It’s time to move on – without passing legislation that prevents hate crimes, without educating people about this type of violence, without facing the fact that prejudice lives among us – it’s time to move on. This voice was balanced, partially, by non-violence pledges and candlelight vigils, but even just a few years after, it was there.
Hearing that voice expanded and mainstreamed in editorials and interviews was one of the hardest things about watching last night’s performance. The frustration of so few quantifiable changes is hard to balance against the lives that were changed so drastically, and, even when it was for the better, out of such tragedy.
It was also extremely surreal to watch actors perform people I knew, whose voices I could hear in the words – but not in the sound of the speech. For me, this act of theatre gave these words even more power – both positive and negative – because it made them more universal. Yes, these were things that my friends had said, sometimes things I had heard them say in person, but they were also the voice of a movement towards justice and human rights. In the case of the more negative comments, they were also things I had heard people say, and in some ways that was even harder – because they are the blocks to progress and prevention, they are the reason that hate crimes have increased, not decreased, they are proof that it easier to ignore tragedy than to be transformed by it, and they break my heart.
Ultimately, I am very glad that I went to see this landmark production – a production that was performed simultaneously in over 100 theatres around the world. Here is a link to the “trailer” on YouTube for a peek at some of the interviews and here is information about the project itself. If you get the chance to see this play performed, go. And think about how you construct your history. Because this is a play about more than just Laramie, it is about all of us.
06 October 2009
"FREE Take Home Coffee Mug. Come worship with us, stay for coffee and fellowship and receive a mug as our gift too you."
Apparently, religion has learned from public radio fund drives - if you give people free stuff they don't mind giving to you as much. Is bribery really the best way to establish a spiritual community?
Also, if you go and get the mug, be sure that you don't blog about your awesome new church, as that would be a violation of the new FTC blogging regulations. Not kidding. Info on them here and here.
02 October 2009
So the votes came in on Twitter and Facebook and I decided to make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes for my evening class this week. Everyone kept saying we should bring food, so I thought cupcakes might be a good initial offering. I found a recipe that fit what I was looking for on Cupcakes Take the Cake. Being constitutionally incapable of leaving well enough alone, though, I had to tweek it a bit. So, here you go - tasty, easy, and even kinda good for you - in terms of cupcakes, anyway...
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oatmeal
1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup (if you can't find this, use white sugar and add an extra 1/2 Tbsp molasses)
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup canola oil
4 eggs (or egg replacer - flax seed would probably be particularly good)
1 Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line three 12-cup muffin tins with decorative cupcake papers.
2 In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. stir in the oatmeal.
3 In a large bowl, whisk (I used and electric hand mixer) together the pumpkin, syrup, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition.
4 Add the flour mixture in three additions, stirring with a large wooden spoon until just combined.
5 Fill the muffin tins about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the tins to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the tins and let cool completely. Makes 3 dozen.
The frosting I used was a complete improvisation. I wanted cream cheese frosting, but didn't have cream cheese, so I went with sour cream instead - similar tangy flavor to offset the spice in the cake.
1 stick butter (or Earth Balance), softened
4 oz. sour cream (or Tofutti Better Than...)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Beat ingredients together, adding the sugar in thirds, so as to not powder your whole kitchen. Add additional sugar to bring frosting to your desired spreading consistency. Spread on cooled cupcakes with a frosting knife or spatula.
26 September 2009
Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, "an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment."
I think that censorship is one of the most debilitating crimes against freedom in a modern society - and not just because I love to read. Reading and education fosters critical thinking and debate - both are key to intellectual (and spiritual) growth and fair governance. I know that just reading, without the thinking, doesn't always work this way - but I do think the more you read, the more you exercise your thinking muscles - whether you mean to or not. Reading broadens horizons, allows you to encounter new viewpoints, opens worlds of possibility. Reading is a human right - reading what I want to is a human right. No one should have the right to determine what is ok for me (or anyone else) to read. Banning books bans free thought.
So, celebrate your right to read what you want - go read a banned book this week. Here's a list of the 10 most challenged books in 2008*, in case you need a place to start:
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
- His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
- TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
- Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
- Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
- Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
- Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
- Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
24 September 2009
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
~Mary Oliver, Dream Work (1986)
22 September 2009
So, I have not been cooking much lately. Settling into a new place, figuring out schedules - I am home hand awake when my sisters are gone or asleep. I miss them and I live with them. =( But we do get weekends together - yesterday we tried a new restaurant and went grocery shopping.
I am also adjusting to a smaller kitchen - less counter space means I have to be super efficient while cooking, and I have to plan and prep better. So not how I do things, in the kitchen or out of it. On the up side, I have a gas stove again and it is AWESOME!!
Yesterday at the grocery store, we saw cucumbers on sale. As you can see, we decided not to pass them up. So in two weeks we will have yummy, garlicky refrigerator pickles.
18 September 2009
Well, I am definitely striving, and I really feel like I have landed in the midst of the best and the brightest... I love my classes and new colleagues... everyone at GWU has been so wonderful and welcoming. I am getting involved with MEMSI - more brilliant people. I feel like every time I talk to someone - in class, at a MEMSI gathering, over lunch - I am blown away. It helps that they love so many of the same things I do... literature, material studies, theory... sometimes I just stop and savor the fabulous-ness of it all.
Ok, blissful gushing over ... on to what I am thinking about in terms of Renaissance Orientations:
I am still ruminating over that ideas that Sarah Ahmed explores in Queer Phenomenology, particularly the idea of objects and our perceptions of them being layered by what has come before - both for the object and the person perceiving. This idea of layering caused me to wonder about action and choice - how they fit into the process of perception and interaction, especially in regard to literature. I am really interested in the idea of literary genealogies... I am a voracious reader - I can't even count the number of books I have read. I know that what comes before layers over each new book~ I make connections, or I am thrown out of poorly researched narratives, because I have read contradictory facts before. This is concept is really interesting for me because I have so many layers underneath the theoretical works that I have read. I am wondering how these previous stories and poems, facts and fictions inflect the theory I read. This is kind of a reversal, for me at least - before this idea I always thought of theory as inflecting other literary text... this is really blowing my mind... How does a childhood obsession with fairytale influence my reading of Foucault? Blowing my mind...
28 August 2009
My fall courses, as described on the GWU English website:
Romantic Childhood and Victorian Children's Literature --- Judith Plotz
"Not only is childhood one of the leading preoccupations of 19th-century British culture, but both juvenilia and children’s literature are two brilliantly opening fields for 21st-century researchers. This seminar will trace the connections between romantic constructions of childhood (there are several, interestingly classed and gendered) and the brilliant body of children’s literature that emerges in the latter part of the 19th century.Some key figures: Rousseau, Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, the Coleridge family (STC, Hartley, Sara), Lewis Carroll, Ewing, Dickens, Kipling, Nesbit. We’ll also examine the juvenilia of Hartley Coleridge,Marjorie Fleming, Jane Austen, the Brontes. We’ll frame our study with the help of critics and theorists including Alexander & McMaster, Kincaid, Myers, Richardson. Rose. The course will culminate in a mini-conference. Students will be expected to produce papers suitable for major conference presentation."
Constructions of Ethnicity and Identity: RENAISSANCE ORIENTATIONS --- Gil Harris
"This graduate seminar takes as its point of departure Sara Ahmed's recent book, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, in order to think through a cluster of related preoccupations with the "orient" (spanning North Africa, Turkey, and Persia to India, China and Indonesia) in English Renaissance writing. The orient was a shifting compass point in relation to which England in particular, and Europe in general, repeatedly (dis)oriented itself in space and time. How may these processes of (dis)orientation shed light on long-standing conceptions of the orient and its objects? We will pay particular attention to medieval and Renaissance travel writing about the orient (from Mandeville to Coryate, Herbert, and Heylyn) and Renaissance "oriental" drama (from Preston's Cambyses and Marlowe's Tamburlaine to The Adventures of the Three English Gentlemen and Fletcher's The Island Princess). We will also consider other theoretical texts on the orient and its objects, including Said's Orientalism, Chakrabarty's Provincializing Europe, and Gunder Frank's Re-Orient"
I will also be taking advantage of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI). The first seminar is:
"Messianic Time and the Untimely"
Three papers will be pre-circulated. On September 17, we will have short presentations followed by open discussion. The presenters are:
1. Kathleen Biddick, "Dead Neighbor Archives and Messianic Time"
2. Julia Lupton, "Paul Shakespeare: Exegetical Exercises"
3. Jonathan Gil Harris, ""The Untimely Mammet of Verona"
And am not abandoning my JD Robb article either, so I will be a busy girl in the next month or so. I don't imagine that it will taper off after that, but for now this is the plan.
20 August 2009
- Classes start at GWU on 1 Sept.
- I interviewed at the GWU Writing Center for a tutor position... I should know by next Thursday if I will be working there.
- Still not all the way unpacked... have I mentioned how much I hate moving chaos?
- Working on an article on JD Robb.
- Thinking about article(s) that might arise from my thesis.
- Speaking of my thesis - it is defended, approved, and submitted... now just waiting on the format check and I will post a link.
- Public transportation is not fun when motion sickness precludes reading and abnormally small ears preclude comfortable headphones.
- I am struggling with how to describe myself professionally - my interests and writing spans a wide range of time periods and genres, tenuously held together by some relation to food and/or the domestic arts.
- My sisters finally have job prospects... after a long and stressful summer of searching. No guarantees yet, though.
- For your viewing pleasure, I have updated my various avatar pictures, behold:
Nota Bene: I like lists - especially lists with bullets. That is all.
04 August 2009
03 July 2009
On our last night in Laramie, after loading the truck, no one wanted to cook... we invaded McAlister’s 20 minutes before they closed, they were really nice about it – I hope that it was not because they touched our food.
We were going to leave at 4am on the 14th, but as our plans had changed and we no longer needed to get to Champagne, IL by a reasonable hour we decided that sleeping more than 3 hours before driving all day was probably a good idea…
So we slept in, left late, and ended up driving most of the next night. We stopped at a hotel in Peoria, IL around 6am and slept away the morning, left mid-afternoon and drove through the night again. Because we have an awesome real estate agent, our keys and lease were waiting for us at our new house the next morning…
We unloaded the truck, ended up at Denny’s – because you don’t go to Denny’s, you end up there – and crashed out. Linus’ flight left at the butt crack of dawn, so after that sad task, we all went back to bed.
Saturday we decided to check out the main farmer’s market in Alexandria. It was raining so we didn’t stay long. The farmer’s market runs from 5.30 – 10 am so we left early and got home around 8.30… and went back to bed.
Only to be awakened to a loud crashing noise at 9.15. Our new house is situated in the cross of a T intersection. Some guy had passed the car stopped at the intersection and accelerated right into our driveway – into my sister’s Blazer in fact…
He then proceeded to get out of his car and run down the street bleeding – a real hit and run… Our neighbors saw everything and called 911 – nota bene: there are some fine firemen in Alexandria, VA – We got 3 fire trucks, an ambulance, and 4 cop cars... the cops then proceeded to catch the guy, tow off his car and all the other good stuff cops do…
The Blazer was totaled - bent axle amongst other damage. We were all ok, though.
So,1800 miles, tons of boxes and drama, and 2 weeks later...
We still have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do, but we are settling in nicely!
08 June 2009
These are all fantastic authors, some brilliant, some brilliantly funny, some both, some just fun. Right now I am especially liking Victoria Dahl, whose novella The Wicked West was a fabulous short break from thesis revisions this past week. She may have saved my sanity...
03 June 2009
So, what I am looking for...
In the romance vein: Historical and straight contemporary, by which I mean not paranormal or romantic suspense, not the orientation of the protagonists - as I am a bit burned out on those subgenres... I have my must reads, but I have noticed recently that my scope is rather narrow and I am looking to expand. The voracious narrative greed means I tear through my favourites, even with re-reading. Also, I would not be adverse to expanding in the BDSM direction, as I have heard good things in that direction. But I need names...
In the fantasy vein: I am talking fantasy here, not sci fi. I am cool with magic, but the machines have to be pretty damn cool for me to read about them, as my relationship with the machines in my life is rather love/hate - I think this is also because, as a rule, I read for character over plot and fantasy does that better than sci fi. Anyway...
In the foodie vein: Anything that is good - I read cookbooks like novels, and I love food memoir as well, so really, anything that is good. I am always looking for new ideas in the kitchen...
In the Classics vein: I am planning on revisiting my favorite Jane Austin titles, but over the course of my MA I realized just how much classic literature I had skimmed - or skipped altogether - as an undergrad. So, what are your favorites?
What else would you recommend? I would be happy to venture outside these paths, if the narrative pay-off is there...
A note on formats: I am down with ebooks, though I won't have a reader until the financial shock of moving across the country wears off. I am not so good with delayed gratification, but needs must. But I will get to them, so don't let format be a limiting factor.
Please share - a desperate reader needs to know!
"Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd." - Edith Sitwell, English biographer, critic, novelist, & poet (1887 - 1964)
Finally, I know - my genius makes me above the opinions of the crowd.
02 June 2009
The section on plum pudding also demonstrates well the ways in which Mrs. Beeton’s text conveys both imperial codes and pragmatic domestic practice using traditional methods of female discourse. The instructional aspects extend far beyond the preparation of the food. Passages on currants, grape varieties, raisins, brandy and citron are interspersed between the recipes, providing a view of the state of commerce, both throughout the Empire and at home. These insertions also indicate the rising middle class audience the Book served.
When talking about currants, Beeton informs her readers, “When gathered and dried by the sun and air, on mats, they are conveyed to magazines, heaped together, and left to cake, until ready for shipping. They are then dug out by iron crowbars, trodden into casks, and exported.” This information is seemingly disconnected from running a Victorian middle class home. However, the facts surrounding this process demonstrate the commerce-based nature of the empire. A thrifty and economical housewife knows where her food comes from and how it is produce, so she can get the best deals when it comes time for her to purchase what is needed for the household she runs. Knowing that “the fertile vale of “Zante the woody” produces about 9,000,000 lbs. of currants annually,” arms the purchaser with a view of the market that she must enter in order to provide the socially acceptable table required by her class. The fact that “we could not make a plum pudding without the currant” requires certain knowledge of the housewife, what currants are and how and where to purchase them, in addition to how to incorporate them into a domestic practice. What seems to be learning without purpose is in fact driven by the economic factors of middle class living in the British Empire.
01 June 2009
31 May 2009
Like much of what I do in the kitchen, these measurements are approximate as I generally am of the dump and pour method. This is as close as I can recreate.
1/4 c butter
1/4 c olive oil
2 Tbsp Chopped garlic
2 sundried tomato garlic spread
3 c rice
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1.7 Litre veggie bullion
.5 Litre boiling water
2 tsp. cream cheese
1/3 c sour cream
melt the fat. sauté the garlic & spread. saute the rice. add vinegar. cook down. add enough liquid to cover rice. boil down. repeat until rice is soft, but not mushy. add the cream cheese and sour cream towards the end of cooking.
I am not a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes, but when they are not the only flavour, they are ok. For this dish i really liked it. It was pretty tangy, so probably a better side dish than main meal.
Little Miss Picky Pants said, "It's ok." - for those not familiar, that is a ringing endorsement.
His Sinfulness thought, "It is very good, and I garnished it with sun-dried tomato bits." - he likes sun-dried tomatoes much better than I do.
Teh Doctor, who was stranded "The texture was fantastic. Definitely firm creamy. The sour cream flavour lingers a little too long. And I went a little over board with the garnishing." - he also was excited by the sun-dried tomatoes.
30 May 2009
I realize that I need to exercise, and that it would in fact probably greatly reduce my stress levels, which in turn would reduce my headaches... however, stress has also sapped any minor motivation I might have had... this is a vicious cycle!
On a related note, there is an end in sight for my thesis.
23 May 2009
This is a topic that has been much debated amongst various members of the flock - with strong proponents on both sides of the issue. The arguments range from corporate greed to health to evolution to personal pleasure. That is not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about death.
Vegans are, with the possible exception of Christians, people who are more afraid of death than any other group I have encountered. This maybe because many of then were raised in a culture where the shadow of Christianity's fear of death has created a culture of youth that is unable to even talk about death. I don't know why it is, but most of the vegans I know, and know of, equate all death with cruelty and label all death as bad. There is a definite value judgement being placed on the ending of a life. In my experience value judgements are made out of two places - sometimes, they come from great joy; but, much more frequently, they arise out of fear. Now if you do not subscribe to a world-view where there is something after this life - be it heaven, reincarnation, or whatever - this fear makes sense. However, these same people are also frequently deeply spiritual people. I have to admit, this baffles me.
I understand, and even agree with, many of the arguments made about quality of life, health benefits, awareness and all of that, right up until they get to the point where death equals cruelty. That is where they loose me. None of the world-views that the vegans I know support this conclusion. Christians are only concerned with the life-after-death of humans, and it is supposed to be better than here. Buddhists believe in a cycle of reincarnation to end suffering - this one comes the closest to making sense to me, as your choices in this life effect your next incarnation, but death is a release into either the next incarnation or to enlightenment; it is the end of suffering. The Neo-Pagans I know come down on varying degrees between a summerlands-type heaven and a cycle of reincarnation, and the same issue that what comes next is something to look forward to applies to them.
So, if all these world-views see death as a good (or at least not bad) thing, why are vegans so opposed to it? Here we get to the value of life, which ones are more important and deserved to be preserved and which ones don't matter. It is argued by ethicists that the line sentience.The sentience line is usually drawn at the vertebrate/invertebrate line by science. But that is not the line that vegans take - otherwise lobster would be fine. And so would honey. So what is the line that makes some life ok to consume for sustenance and pleasure and other life, cruel. And who gets to decide where to step outside the cycle of life and death. Nothing lives except by the death of something else.
Now would probably be a good time to state that there are several points which vegans make that I completely agree with. That the quality of life of the animals we (omnivores) eat should be improved. And the giant corporate factory farms and animal testing do nothing to contribute to an improvement - or the ienvironment, or the health of developed nations. And that by making uninformed food choices which support these businesses, you perpetuate animal cruelty. I also think that it is important to consider all the consequences of your choices - especially food choices.
But by focusing on the death, I think that much is missed in the beautiful, natural cycles of the present.
18 May 2009
We were not liking the Kindle, due to outrageous pricing, no external storage, and the general suckitude of #Amazonfail and their recent attempts to monopolize publishing in a not cool way. With all that in mind, we had decided to go the Sony route. Not only does Sony not suck, they have the deal with Google where you get 500,000 free books. Yay! Free! Books! Turns out however, that Sony is not compatible with Macs - both of us have a Mac. We love our Macs. We will not ever buy PCs again, unless they somehow manage to be as cool as Macs. Or the Devil starts ice-skating on his driveway.
So, no Sony. There was much with the sad face.
But Kindle still sucks.
Our phone conversation got cut off, and while I was waiting for her to call me back so we could figure out what to do, I read my daily blog posts. Turns out Smart Bitches post was on an ebook conference. Turns out there is a European company called Bookeen. Turns out they have a reader called Cybook. And it's compatible. With everything.
Turns out I WANT it.
16 May 2009
30 April 2009
29 April 2009
As to when you will get a post of more substance, all I can say is after thesis, grading and moving... but now I will have pretty pictures to go with the posts that I will eventually be posting... so, Yay!
17 April 2009
"Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in the times of greatest distress." Milan Kundera, Czech Writer
"To remain aware of the weight of fact without yielding to the temptation to become only a reporter is one of the most difficult puzzles confronting a practitioner of poetry." Czeslaw Milosz, Polish Writer
What is it about the Eastern Europeans?
The Literary Quote of the Day made me think of Poetics last spring and Czeslaw Milosz - his poetry embodies this sense of beauty in times of distress. In fact, the way I ended up describing it in my notes resonates with both of these quotes: In moments of dissolution, the specific and the general meet - intimacy and ephemera.
I am not sure that it expresses the resonance, but there ya go - that's what happens when a non-linear thinker gets to blog...
This lead me to reflect on the beauty of Eastern European writer's works, both poetry and prose. They are so heart-wrenchingly fabulous and frequently they spring from great tragedy and hardship. They are in no way a specialty of mine, but I am blown away whenever I encounter them (I realize the gross generalization I am making here)...
I wonder what it is about the human condition that inspires the creation beauty from pain?
14 April 2009
I love, love, love, me some New Orleans - I always thought I would from all I have read about it, but now I can say from personal experience that it is true - I love New Orleans. Part of this incredibly favorable first impression may be the people I shared a goodly portion of the past week with - the Popular Romance section of the PCA conference. This group is so warm and welcoming and supportive - they are just plain nice! And snarky... oh, the snark. Those who know me know what a requirement that is for a good time to be had by all. Some of them I already "knew" from online, and others it was a huge pleasure for me to meet them for the first time. I came away from the conference with a new/re-affirmed confidence in my work as a scholar and with tons of ideas for future projects.
Now I just have to catch up in the rest of my life...
01 April 2009
I think that this is why I can only write about certain romance novelists in a scholarly light - not all of them have this poetic effect, some of them are just entertainment...
28 March 2009
23 March 2009
06 February 2009
As readers of romance know, this ushered in a time of endless rake dukes and rebel heiresses - in fact, there were so many, that to write about them all, regency romance got its own subgenre...
one more reason to read romance novels...
05 February 2009
03 February 2009
The day itself was pretty ordinary - I had to deal with a lot of the details that are necessary to teaching and grad school. It really brought home to me that I am where I need to be and doing what I should be ... I love being an academic. More than anything it was a peaceful day, filled with good conversation and dear friends. There is nothing more rewarding than milestones that make you happy with where you are, rather than regretful of where you could be...
My thesis is less on track, but still exciting... I keep meaning to do more than I actually get done, but it is underway and more than just a concept in my head now...
Blessed Imbolc! We are halfway to the spring solstice and in frozen wastelands like the one where I live that is definitely some thing to celebrate... and it is above zero, so we don't have to freeze while we do it.
May yours be blessed!
So my first foray into fondue was lovely... I can't believe I got the the ripe old age of 29 never having tried it... we went to The Melting Pot in Ft. Collins and it was super tasty - I have to say I am a fan of fondue, though I think the caloric intake will be limiting my indulgence... still I could totally see a fondue set in my future...
17 January 2009
16 January 2009
WordPress and hosting issues have lead me to switch back to blogger, which does everything for me. I am still playing around with templates and formats, but here we are - the address is the same, but you will have to reset your rss feeds, so let me know if there are problems...