Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where soul meets body

After a busy past few days, all I wanted from tonight was to heave a great physical and mental sigh as I settled into my armchair-like object with a book and a big plate of classic healthy comfort food: slow-cooked kale and pinto bean casserole. It tastes like hugs feel. I didn't photograph it, largely because only the New York Times can make a dish like that look good*. There is something more picturesque on the menu, though:

These are lemon cookies adapted from a recipe at the eminently charming One Perfect Bite. I don't have lemon extract and wasn't going to fork over for it just to make these cookies, so I upped the lemon juice and added a little almond extract. These are big, chewy, simple-to-make Frisbees of baked good perfection.

And as to the book, I got to choose from among three I recently purchased at mark-down prices from my local bankrupt branch of Borders:

1. Coin Locker Babies, by Ryu Murakami: In the Miso Soup was gory almost to a fault, and this from a girl who loves her some zombie fiction, but I'm giving him another chance. Almost Transparent Blue is his most famous, I think, but if this one isn't good enough to overcome the gross, I'm not going to go for it. I'm encouraged, though, because the back cover is splashed with a quote from Banana Yoshimoto: "Its power grabbed me by the heart." How quaint.

2. True at First Light, by Ernest Hemingway: This unfinished work was heavily edited by one of Hemingway's children and released to controversial reception in 1999. I'm not educated enough to be a Hemingway purist, though, and since I llike his memoir-style work most of all--I believe I've written about my love of A Moveable Feast--this felt like a natural next step in my Hemingway consumption.

3. Year's Best SF 15, ed. David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer: Mock on, O ship of state, but hear me out before you do. I may have mentioned on this blog certain books that I read in childhood that in retrospect affected me more deeply than I had first considered. The most notable of these is Eleven Blue Men, which, when I read it at age ten or so, both sparked my love for infectious disease and implanted in my brain knowledge that has been getting me quizbowl points and med school points ever since. Amusingly enough, the Year's Best SF anthologies were similarly influential. Some of them mentioned Real Science that I then researched; some of them mentioned Real Literature or Real History that I then learned about. Some of them presented interesting ethical issues in their storylines; some of them just granted me indelible images of fantastic landscapes that still make me contentedly dreamy when I think about them. I said to myself, "Why should these childhood memories end with childhood's end** when for the low price of $4.99 I can read a new installment in the anthologies?" And I bought it.

*Alterations to the recipe: I had no fresh herbs besides the parsley and no herbes de Provence blend, so I improvised and just mixed everything in, throwing the bay leaf on top. Additionally, I made a crust of panko blended with Parmesan and olive oil.
**Yeah, I did mentally giggle at this one. I crack me up.

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