Sunday, April 26, 2009

Excerpt from WIP

Lately, I have been thinking about, but not writing much on my novel in progress. However, tonight, after a happy, tiring day of digging in the garden, I actually worked on the novel for a while. Here's a short excerpt from the evening's writing:

It is amazing what happens to time when you are having a major life experience like your first relationship. It gets completely filled up. Every single moment becomes intensely saturated with significance. Later, when you look back, there are all these events, emotions, and significant moments packed in one after another and you remember them all perfectly. So it seems incredible when you realize that only, say, three weeks have gone by, yet more has happened than in three normal months. And those three months that you would have typically had in the past seem so pale, empty, and pathetic compared to every colourful, jam-packed hour in your current eventful life.

That’s how it felt for me when Percy and I began going out together. It’s like all my senses got switched from sleep mode to full on. I smelled coffee with an intensity that almost made me faint, and suddenly I could see things around me with the clarity of an artist – the colours, the composition, the pattern of twigs against a winter sky. Yet at the same time, every little nerve ending was like an antenna tuned to the frequency of Percy; every part of my body was alike an octopus tentacle reaching towards Percy. The pop music singers always sing about the “electricity” of love, or the “magnetism” of their lover, and I totally discovered what they meant. I felt astonishingly alive, the blood pulsing under my skin, and I could hardly even recall how dull and vacant my life had been only weeks before.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yummy chicken recipe

Chicken with Dark Beer (Coq à la Bière)

"Southerners in France like their chicken cooked in wine, preferably a rich red, but northerners go for the caramel intensity of dark beer laced with plenty of onions. The sweetness of the beer is enhanced with a spicing of juniper berries and a shot of gin, the local tipple. I enjoy a puree of celery root or lentils on the side, but the traditional accompaniment would be mashed or boiled potatoes. The chicken can be prepared ahead and refrigerated in its sauce up to three days, or freeze it up to one month. Thaw, reheat, and add the yogurt and vinegar before serving." —AW


4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned
  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 2 chicken drumsticks, skinned
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons dry gin
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped peeled carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 3 medium)
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, halved
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Combine first 3 ingredients; sprinkle evenly over both sides of chicken. Heat butter and oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pan from heat. Pour gin into one side of pan; return pan to heat. Ignite gin with a long match; let flames die down. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

2. Add celery, carrot, shallots, and juniper berries to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms. Place thyme, parsley, and bay leaf on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag to pan. Return chicken to pan, nestling into vegetable mixture. Stir in beer; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the meaty parts of chicken registers 160°. (Breasts may cook more quickly. Check them after 35 minutes, and remove them when they're done; keep warm.)

3. Discard cheesecloth bag. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Place pan over medium heat; stir in yogurt. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated (do not boil, as the yogurt may curdle). Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Place 1 chicken breast half or 1 drumstick and 1 thigh on each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 3/4 cup sauce and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 370
Fat: 16g (sat 6.6g,mono 5g,poly 3g)
Protein: 30.8g
Carbohydrate: 15.1g
Fiber: 1.4g
Cholesterol: 103mg
Iron: 2mg
Sodium: 465mg
Calcium: 55mg
Anne Willan, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2009

Okay, I haven't tried this recipe from Cooking Light yet, but I plan to. . . .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

bobble head poem

Here is the first draft of a poem I wrote last night:

band-aid diagonal across my red magnetic
lips can speak no
intertextual references
chinese bobble heads
rubberneck swivel for slim waisted girls
hot my thighs kiss
across your lap round paunch
warm as bath blood
content in
wordless middle age
boundaries signified by
skin soft as
limb length of touch
me and snooze entangled
in somnolent
complete it is

I had a set of kissing bobble heads when I was a child, but mine wore red.

This image comes from the Flickr photostream of MacaDamien.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stepping Out

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.
Okay, okay. I know it's a rooster. And it's crossing a stream, not a road.
But the point is the same -- ya do what ya gotta do.

But wait! This rooster is visualizing something. Faced with a problem -- a body of water between him and his destination -- he saw the board and employed the praxis of using it as a bridge.

Behind him is a clutch of hens, waiting, wondering, "Will he make it?" " Will he fall in?" Perhaps they are considering stepping out onto the bridge, fretting about the possibility of falling in, not wanting to look a fool in front of their hen house mates.

It can be read as leadership versus conformity. It can be read along gender lines. After all, is whatever is on the other side worth risking one's feathered self? The breed is not entirely flightless (although flighty), but does one really want to test it in such a high stakes situation?

The other side -- we are all heading there. Some of us embrace new landscapes, and others hang around the chicken yard as much as possible pecking at bugs in the familiar patch of dirt. I'd like to think that I am one of those exploratory other side type of birds.

The photo is from Robot Nine.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Silly Pigs and Poem

I wanted to post this picture of pigs that amused me. There is something about pigs -- especially ones with very pink noses, dog paddling in twos across a very green stretch of water -- that needs to be noted. Sadly, this image came to me in an email with no info about where it came from, so I can't attribute the source. Thanks, photographer, wherever you are.

The other thing I wanted to mention tonight has nothing to do with pigs. I came across a blog by Tony Mancus called Into the Headland. He writes an entry every day, and every entry is a poem. That is inspiring. Much better than my strategy of just waiting for inspiration to strike! Here is a small fragment of one of his recent poems:

"i will speak encryption with tiny keys.
my tongue a salt lick--the animals come rushing."

Go check out his blog to read the whole thing.