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As the "reblogging" culture of Tumblr becomes more pervasive, I thought I'd better make it clear what I'm okay with you doing with my public posts. Everything listed here is in addition to commenting on my journal, which is always welcome.

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My Fanfiction

YOU MAY: Write remixes, sequels, prequels, responses, or whatever. Make art or illustrations. Review, recommend, discuss, and link to fics. Translate a story or record a podcast of it so long as you let me know and give me appropriate credit as the author. Print or save copies (please make sure my name is attached as author).

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If you have any questions, just drop me a line here or PM me.

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master list of my fiction

This list includes all of my posted fanfiction, except for unfinished things and a few short pieces that I never even gave titles to. All my stories on LJ are also tagged; see the "fic" tags on my sidebar.

Within each category, stories are listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top. I've included only the title and main characters here; see the header of each story for rating, any warnings, etc. Generally speaking, the first character listed is the POV character.

Please let me know if there are any problems with these links.

2013 Addendum: This post is no longer being updated. All of my newer stories and most of my old ones can be found at An Archive of Our Own, which has handy search features. They're also here on LJ and you can find them using my tags.

Blake"s 7Collapse )

Buffy the Vampire SlayerCollapse )

DiscworldCollapse )

Doctor WhoCollapse )

due SouthCollapse )

Harry PotterCollapse )

Simon Pegg and/or Nick Frost fandomsCollapse )

TintinCollapse )

T minus 6 and counting

This is my non-weekend weekend, as I don't have a complete day off. I worked M-F last week, had a store meeting today (only about an hour, but I still had to get up and get dressed and go, and also speak), and I work tomorrow to help get ready for Black Friday.* I will get next Thursday, Thanksgiving, off, which is good, but I still feel a bit grumpy.

So naturally I'm spending today baking stuff to bring to work for our Black Friday potluck. Lots about baking and cooking under the cutCollapse )

In things that aren't about food, I have a free movie ticket that I got when I went to see Spectre. Anybody have recs? I'm thinking about Labyrinth of Lies, but it hasn't gotten great reviews. I'd love to hear from anybody who's seen it.

I still need to watch London Spy. I'm scared that I got my hopes up too far and will be disappointed. (No spoilers, please . . . )

And I need to work on my Yuletide fic.

And now, I think it's time to go and shape the bread.

*Black Friday, for those of you outside the US, is the day after Thanksgiving; this year it's November 27. It's the official start of the Christmas retail season, the day when stores roll out their biggest deals, and the busiest shopping day of the year. Many stores open super early--not the one I work at, thank heavens--and it's almost invariably crowded and hectic. It is not fun for people who work in retail. I don't see how it's fun for customers, either, but people want bargains enough that they keep showing up for it.

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I saw Spectre today.

spoilers under the cutCollapse )

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food awkwardness

Last weekend I baked a beef and mushroom pie. It turned out basically fine, but I was disappointed. The smell of it was so delicious it drove me half crazy waiting for it to bake and cool, but the actual eating was only okay.

What I'm realizing, and this is immensely frustrating, is that I don't really like the taste of most braised meat. Chicken is fine, but beef in particular gets too sort of dank tasting, and I don't really like the soft texture either. (Before anyone asks, yes I do braise my meat correctly at a slow simmer, rather than boiling it and making it stringy. And I cut off all the visible fat.) Given my interest in pies and stews, this is fairly not good. *sigh*

There are a couple of things that help. If something is very highly spiced, like a curry, I'm fine with it (although I think it also helps that most curries aren't cooked as long as stews). And if the meat is ground, such as in a soup I made over the summer that had meatballs simmered in it or the chili I made a few weeks ago, that's also fine. But plainish braised/stewed red meat is somewhere between dull and slightly ooky to me. I had the same problem with a lamb stew recently--I had to add olives, lemon juice, and tons of smoked hot paprika before it was palatable.

It's frustrating because stews always sound so good. And I hate being picky; it makes me annoyed with myself.

Ah, well. The next plan is to try a pork pie with minced/ground pork, which I hope will turn out more to my taste. Or maybe something with ham, because the smoky flavor and firmer texture of ham should prevent the ookiness factor.

In other cooking, the oatmeal-cranberry-double chocolate cookies I made for the boss's going-away part last week were a big hit. I thought they were a hair too sweet, but everybody else liked them, and that's always gratifying.

And I've worked out why my bread has been having problems--I got carried away with the long rise thing and had cut down the amount of yeast too much, so that it wasn't rising enough even over 16+ hours. Especially now that it's turned cold here and my apartment is chilly, a bit more yeast improves things.

What have you been cooking/baking/eating? Or if you have any suggestions for the Braised Meat Problem, they're very welcome.

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happy Halloween!

If you're celebrating. My plans involve staying home, going to bed early and not answering the door. /Halloween scrooge

I've been doing a bit of cooking and baking. I started some bread dough (to be baked tomorrow), roasted a butternut squash and ate some of it with pasta and blue cheese, I'm roasting some beets right now to go into a mustardy vinaigrette, and I've made up a batch of dough for oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries and dark and white chocolate chips. I'm going to portion out the cookie dough and freeze most of it, some to bring to a little work party later in the week, some so that I can bake lovely fresh cookies whenever I want them!

Tomorrow I'm going to make a beef and mushroom pie with a hot-water pastry. I've temporarily surrendered on the lard issue and bought the smallest available box of supermarket stuff. It'll do for experimenting with, and the next time I see pork fat for sale I'll definitely buy some.

If I'm feeling ambitious tomorrow I may also put together some individual apple pies, which can be stored frozen, like the cookie dough, and baked whenever I get the craving.

Last weekend I neglected to post about the rest of my baking, so here goes! I baked some rye bread (fine, but uninspiring) and some little buns filled with curried potatoes. The latter have made excellent lunches throughout the week--I just take one out of the freezer in the morning, bring it to work in a ziplock bag, and by lunchtime it's thawed and ready. I like this in a lunch, because I do not want to be assembling a sandwich at five o'clock in the morning, so I may adopt filled buns as a lunchtime staple. The buns could be filled with just about anything that's fairly dry and can stand up to 15 minutes of baking: many other curries, or things like ham and cheese, chicken with chutney or pesto, leftover roast beef with mustard . . . yum.

Next weekend--really I only cook on weekends now, it's a bit sad--I think I'm going to make a chicken waterzooi, which is a creamy stew. The recipe I have calls for parsley root, and parsley root is currently available in my local market, so I want to make this before it disappears.

Mmm, autumn food, how I love it.

Of course I don't only think about food. I also think about Yuletide. I have what should be a workable idea for my assignment, which I should get started on this weekend so as not to fall into Procrastination Hell.

Other than Yuletide I'm at a bit of a low ebb fannishly. But I'm looking forward to the new Bond movie, and to the gay spy thriller London Spy. There are probably a zillion other great things coming out between now and the new year as well, which hopefully I won't be too busy/exhausted from work to see.

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mostly pie and books

I'm baking an apple pie at the moment, based on a recipe from my recently acquired copy of Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds. I adapted the crust slightly by adding a teaspoon of cider vinegar--a trick I got from one of Rose Levy Beranbaum's books and which makes a very flaky crust--omitted the cheese layer Hollywood adds to the filling, and added a little bit of nutmeg. Just nutmeg, no cinnamon or anything, because I wanted a pie I could eat with cheese even though I didn't want cheese actually in the pie. I also got ambitious and decorated it with pastry leaves and grapes. The leaves look fantastic, far beyond the slight effort it took to make them. (Use a round cutter to cut out pastry circles from the dough scraps, then use the same cutter to cut from each edge to the center, making two leaves. Score to make the vein pattern.) It just now occurs to me that I could have made pastry apples instead of grapes, but oh well. It looks pretty and makes me feel almost like a person who can bake.

Pies and Puds is full of recipes I want to attempt, such as bacon and egg pie; cheese, potato, and onion pie; "Hollywood's Temptation" (a riff on the Swedish dish Janssen's temptation) which features potatoes and smoked salmon in filo pastry; choux buns with mushrooms; lemon and lavender posset with lavender biscuits; and so on. I'm especially drawn to something called Bedfordshire Clangers, which are individual pastry rolls with a ham filling at one end and an apple and pear filling at the other, so you've got your main course and dessert all in one neat package. There's also a game pie recipe, which falls in nicely with my tentative Christmas dinner plans.

more about baking, possibly more than anyone wants to readCollapse )

In life outside of baking, work is . . . work. This week was a bit of a nightmare as we received a ridiculous amount (pretty much a truckload) of Christmas stuff that we can't display yet but have no room to store, also because corporate haven't authorized extra hours yet even though there's a lot of extra work to do. I was so tired yesterday that I went to bed at about 5:30 pm--this is slightly less ridiculous when you consider that I get up M-F at 4:00 am--and slept until almost 8:00 am. I was awake for about an hour at around midnight, but still.

There's not much else going on. I re-read my four preferred Jane Austen novels (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion, in that order) again, and loved them as I always do, and then wished again that there were m/m slash AUs where Darcy courts Bingley and Mr. Knightley adjusts his snobbery enough to realize that he loves his steward, William Larkins. M/m isn't really possible for S&S* or Persuasion, but if there was an AU where Elinor doesn't marry Edward and Colonel Brandon doesn't marry Marianne and the two of them are unconventionally best pals for life, I'd be happy.

*Brandon/Willoughby could be attempted, but I hate Willoughby more with every re-read. Colonel Brandon is too good for him by far.

I've also read Philip Purser-Hallard's The Pendragon Protocol, which is sort of like Kingsman with fantasy elements and more intelligent politics, and enjoyed it enormously. Need to get the second in the series.

We had a book sale at work and I got copies of several of Mark Hodder's novels for cheap. The Burton & Swinburne series ought to be perfect for me: Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor) and Algernon Swinburne investigate weird crimes in a steampunk alternate Britain. Alas, the one I'm reading is not well written at all--how is it even possible to make Burton and Swinburne boring?--and I'm having to slog my way through. I keep hoping it'll get better.

ETA: Some pie has been eaten. The filling is delicious. I used four Golden Delicious apples and three Honeycrisp, and the combination is gorgeous. The nutmeg added just the right aroma without overwhelming the apples--much better than cinnamon.

Unfortunately the juiciness of the apples rather overwhelmed the pastry. The edges were lovely and crisp, but the bottom crust especially got soggy. I should have cut the apples a bit thicker and also used more starch in the filling. The recipe didn't call for any, but I used a bit of tapioca starch. Not enough, apparently. Also, to compensate for the high altitude I baked the pie at a slightly lower temperature than called for, so that the crust wouldn't brown before the apples cooked. This may have been a mistake. Using Honeycrisp may also have been part of the problem--it's a very juicy apple--but the taste is too good to want to change.

Definitely not a bad pie, but there's still room for improvement.

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Yuletide 2015 letter

Dear Yuletide writer,

First of all, thank you for writing for me. I'm thrilled that you share my interest in one of these fandoms, and I can't wait to read your story.

What follows is a little more information about what I like and don't like. But I want to say right away that I hope you will write a story you find interesting and enjoy writing, even if it goes in a different direction from the things I mention here. It could well turn out to be the story I didn't know I wanted.

The thing that appeals to me most in a fanfic is character exploration. I love getting to know characters with more depth and intimacy than in canon, as well as seeing them in a new light or from a new perspective. Character studies and stories that focus on emotional developments rather than outside events work well for me. I certainly would be happy to read something plotty if you enjoy writing plot (and if you do, I envy you!), but I look at plot as a bonus rather than a requirement.

Something else I adore is worldbuilding, whether it's a fantasy world with magic, an alternate history, or the real world we live in. I love the details of material culture (clothes and food and such) but also, or especially, the details of the social world: who's got what kinds of power, how people relate to one another, their jokes and superstitions and traditions and what they do for fun. I will happily wallow in this kind of stuff, so if you like worldbuilding, go wild!

I'm not terribly picky about genre, style, or tone. I like happy stories and melancholy stories, straightforward narratives and stylistic experiments, missing scenes and metafictions, canon-compliance and what-ifs, backstory and futurefic. Feel free to take an idea and run with it. One caveat, however: I'm not a big fan of AUs that completely change the premise of the canon (such as coffee shop AUs, high school AUs, or things like omegaverse or BDSM verses). I love the original settings too much to want to lose them in an AU. My exception to this preference is The Great British Bake-Off, where AUs are among my requests.

You'll notice from my prompts that I love male/male slash, but if that's not your cup of tea, gen is absolutely welcome. I've tried to give gen prompts as well as slashy ones. I'm not much interested in het, though, so I'd rather the story didn't focus on a heterosexual relationship.

If you choose to write slash for me, don't feel obliged to include a sex scene if you'd rather not or if you don't think it develops the characters or the emotional arc. Some stories need a sex scene and others don't; I'm not a huge fan of porn for porn's sake, and I'm every bit as happy with a nonexplicit story as a porntastic one. If you do include a sex scene, my tastes are pretty vanilla.

I should mention my two strong Do Not Wants. Please avoid any rape scenes or even offscreen rape as a focus of the story. Also, while I'm fine with stories including or addressing issues of homophobia and transphobia, I'd rather not receive something terribly bleak and hopeless that's all about the victimization of queer characters.

On to the requestsCollapse )

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and one more silly note about the Bake Off

not spoilery, just sillyCollapse )

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posts are like omnibuses

1) Baked some biscotti yesterday. They turned out well, but it has made me realize that I just don't like biscotti enough to want to go to the effort--and it isn't even that much effort--of baking them. Ah, well, that leaves several thousand other kinds of cookies/biscuits to bake.

2) Also yesterday, used my new soup pot for the first time. I made some chili, because for about two weeks I've been craving it. And not proper Tex-Mex chili, which is made with just meat and chiles and absolutely NOT beans. No, I wanted midwestern chili, made with ground beef and kidney beans and tomatoes, mildly spiced. Like my mom used to make, only better, because my mom wasn't much of a cook really. In the end I did a few slightly fussy things--I used ancho chile powder (because I couldn't find whole dried anchos) and a couple of whole, toasted, soaked, chopped up guajillo chiles, and freshly-ground cumin seed and Mexican oregano, and I added a bit of espresso powder and cocoa powder for depth, and some worcestershire sauce because it needed a certain something, and beans I'd previously cooked and frozen instead of beans from a can--but I got the result I wanted. And now I have lots of leftover chili in the freezer. I like having food in the freezer. Convenient + anxiety-easing.

3) Have finished watching Rejseholdet. Am pleased with highly slash-friendly ending. Am wondering if slashiness was deliberate on writers' part, because WOW. Am amused that around the middle of S3, the cinematographer discovered the blue filter and the whole look of the show changed, and also all the characters started wearing all black all the time. Still recommend it to those who like police drama, strong m/m slashiness, nuanced female characters, and strong female friendship with slashy potential; all previous caveats apply, however.

Definitely requesting it for Yuletide.

4) Two of my Yuletide nominations (Grantchester and The Thrilling Adventure Hour) have been approved. Still waiting on approval of the Bake Off.

5) Speaking of the Bake Off, spoilers for the semi-finalCollapse )

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stuff other than work

I haven't been doing much in the kitchen, because with all the job stuff going on, I gave myself permission to not cook for a while unless I feel like it.

This past weekend I did end up making some choux buns. The original plan was for eclairs, but I decided I didn't want to buy chocolate (for the topping) because it was so hot, and it turned out that the pastry-bag substitute everyone says works great (snipping the end off of a zip-top plastic bag) does not work great. So I ended up with a certain amount of wasted choux paste, and some buns. They were rather nice when filled with cinnamon horchata ice cream and drizzled with dulce de leche. The ice cream was storebought; I sort of made the dulce de leche, if it counts as "making" something when what you do is empty a tin of sweetened condensed milk into a pan and stick it in the oven, in a water bath, for an hour and a half. Anyway, regardless of its homemade status, it's tasty.

Also last weekend I made a pizza using a batch of dough I'd made a while back and frozen. I topped it with roasted cherry tomatoes, some slivers of salami, and mozzarella.

The weekend before that I baked scones from Paul Hollywood's recipe, which were quite good except that I overbrowned the bottoms of the first batch. I still have some in the freezer, which is the good thing about baking as a single person.

Other than that I've been living on pasta and more junk food than I really wanted. The eventual plan for the work/cooking balance is to cook big batches of things on weekends. But the sort of foods that take well to this method are mostly stewy, and it's been too damn hot here. Not super hot (today it got to 86 F or 30 C), but hot enough that I don't want to make stew. It's the end of September, why can't the weather be autumnal?

In non-food related amusements, I've been watching the Danish police drama Rejseholdet, which aired in Britain some years back as Unit One. I recommend it, with a couple of caveats, if you like police procedurals: it has good writing (especially the dialogue and character stuff, not always the plots so much); interesting characters including a three-dimensional female lead with agency and nuance; excellent acting from everyone, including Mads Mikkelsen, later of Hannibal fame in the Anglophone world; and two highly slashable relationships, one between squad leader Ingrid Dahl and her friend and colleague Gaby, the other between Allan Fischer (Mikkelsen's character) and his friend and colleague Thomas LaCour, played by Lars Brygmann, a fine actor who is also exactly my type.

There are some less good points: it's dated in its attitudes towards queer people and towards certain gender-related issues (for example there's an incident of domestic violence that's not well addressed); less seriously, the characters have too much soap-opera style personal drama for my taste. But overall I like it a lot so far--I'm partway through series 3--and will almost certainly request it for Yuletide.

It's available to stream from Amazon in the US, widely available in Britain I believe, and findable around the internet.

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The Great British Bake Off

Spoilers for 6x08, Pastry.

click hereCollapse )

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Today I baked Paul Hollywood's Eight Strand Plaited Loaf. It was both more and less difficult than I expected. The dough is somewhat sticky--I did the math just now and it has a 68% hydration, which is quite high for a dough you're going to braid--and this ruined my first attempt at braiding because all the strands stuck together. So I rolled it back into a ball, kneaded it with a bit of flour until it was less sticky, then managed the braid on the second attempt.

click here if you want the detailsCollapse )

I'd also meant to make a cake today (coffee and walnut, topped with some caramel-dipped walnuts), but the bread took longer than expected. Plus, I failed in my attempt to make caramel for the walnuts, which was a bit disheartening. Next time I will take more seriously all those warnings about how easily caramel crystallizes.

I still haven't made the lemon cake with lemon curd, either, because even a half recipe requires eight eggs and every time I have the time and inclination to make it, it turns out I don't have enough eggs. And I can never bring myself to make a special trip to the supermarket just to buy them.

In news which will probably surprise none of you as much as it surprised me, I seem to have developed a crush on Paul Hollywood. Why, libido, why? Even the truly frightening color that too many hours on the tanning bed have given his face is no deterrent. I don't normally go for big men, either.

I have a little crush on Mary Berry, too, but of a very different kind. I'd like to imagine her as a slightly intimidating but favorite aunt, the sort who doles out good, sensible yet quietly daring life advice along with tea, G&T, and cake.

And now I must away to bed. Did I mention that my workday now starts at 6 am?

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that was the week that was

Have survived first week of new job responsibilities. It was a long week.

I owe comments/replies to a bunch of you, but right now I'm tired.

About all I've done this last week that wasn't work-related was watch The Great British Bake OffCollapse )

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but what would Paul and Mary say?

[personal profile] st_aurafina made me watch The Great British Bake Off (she flew all the way from Australia to twist my arm until I surrendered!) with two results: (1) I'm now a slightly obsessive fan and (2) I want to BAKE ALL THE THINGS.

So I tried, for the first time ever, to make a proper layer cake with frosting and everything. I was cautious and used a recipe actually designed for the altitude at which I live (7000 feet or 2100 meters, which has big effects on baking). The end result was sort of a hilarious disaster and sort of a triumphCollapse )

This half-failure half-triumph has whetted my ambitions, so for my next trick I intend to make a variation of the same cake recipe (with the right amount of buttermilk this time!), only with each of the two layers split in half, the whole thing filled with homemade lemon curd and then topped with a light lemon glaze instead of frosting, because the cake and the lemon curd are probably quite rich enough.

I also want to try making biscotti, which held no interest at all for me until the second Bake Off episode. I've always thought of them as nasty stale things that coffee shops overcharge you for, but the ones on the Bake Off all looked really good. I'm thinking of cranberry, orange zest, and (maybe) crystallized ginger for my attempt. I'd like to have hazelnuts but they're awfully expensive, especially for a first try at something.

I only wish you all lived close enough that I could invite you over to help me eat all the cakes, etc. I'd like to bake. And not only out of the desire to share--frustratingly, my baking is still limited to things that will keep for at least several days, as I hate wasting food and bringing stuff to work has limited appeal. I do it sometimes, but I'd rather share with friends, and plus too much of that sort of thing can give you the reputation of being the workplace mom, which I really really don't want for all kinds of reasons.

By the way, on the subject of baking, can anybody recommend a good book on baking techniques that's preferably geared towards the home baker rather than a professional or would-be professional? I want a book that will tell me how to make basic components like a sponge or puff pastry or a pastry cream and how to combine those components into a variety of tasty things, but that doesn't assume you have a professional oven and so on. It's bad enough that all baking books assume you have a stand mixer. So far the most helpful book I've seen is my old Joy of Cooking, but it doesn't go far enough, and other baking books I've seen all give plenty of recipes for specific cakes or pastries but don't generalize their instructions or contain much if any focus on technique.

My life has not been entirely consumed by baking, of course. As always I'm reading a ton of things, most of them not especially worth mentioning. I've been wanting to read more history and, of all things, philosophy, for which I blame the In Our Time podcasts, but the local library system is underfunded and I think has sometimes made bad choices with what funds it does have. I understand that public libraries have to respond to public demand, but it's a bit shocking that there are so many diet books and new age woo-woo books and practically nothing on, for example, German history apart from the Nazi era. And no biography of Frederick the Great apart from one written by a Mitford (Nancy?) in the early 1970s, which I can't imagine will deal sensibly with his sexuality.

A couple of good things I've read, or partly read: I got about a third of the way through Nikolaus Wachsmann's KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps before I just couldn't go on. It's an excellent book full of first-rate research, and not one of those Holocaust books that are thin excuses for atrocity porn, but by 1938 I was already overwhelmed and the Holocaust per se hadn't even started yet. Knowing it was just going to get worse, I had to stop. But I may go back to it eventually and I recommend it to those with strong constitutions.

I also liked Barbara Tuchman's The Proud Tower, which is about the era just before the First World War. I picked it up off the new book shelf at the library, not realizing it was a re-release. As is my habit, when I got it home I went to the index for something queer-related and looked up what she had to say about the Eulenberg scandal. I was struck by the homophobia of the language, then saw that the book was first published in 1965. In that context the homophobia looked very mild, actually--more like the sort of standard disapproval anyone would have to express lest readers be outraged by its absence. (I've seen a similar level of homophobia in basically pro-gay books from this era written by gay people.) I thought there was an interesting resonance between the (token?) homophobia and the way Tuchman discusses socialism--when she talks about poverty and working conditions etc. she's clearly, strongly in favor of change, but if the dreaded word "socialism" comes up she has to be disparaging about it, because 1965 was the middle of the cold war and socialism was a very dirty word in the United States.

Apart from that I've been re-reading the best of Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries. I might request these at Yuletide, with a focus on Edgar Wield, both because he's awesome and because I want a good proportion of my Yuletide requests this year to be for canonically queer characters. Out of my five likely requests so far, three are for canonically queer characters (Wield, Leonard Finch from Grantchester and Colonel Tick-Tock from The Thrilling Adventure Hour, though he's only strongly-canonically-hinted as being queer if you want to split hairs about it) and two are not (York from Hyperdrive and Tintin and Haddock from Tintin). If we have six requests this year I want to add another canonically queer character. *thinks*

Shutting up now as this post is long enough already.

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'twill eventually be the season

It's early days yet, I admit, but I've been thinking about Yuletide. My nomination plans are settled-ish, though the sudden discovery of a wonderful new fandom can always happen.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Grantchester, Leonard Finch

Granchester's first series aired too late last year to be Yuletide-eligible, to my sorrow because it's my favorite new show in a long time. It's set in 1953 and features a vicar, Sidney Chambers, who stumbles into mystery-solving and finds he can't bear to stop. It's well-acted and decently written with vivid, appealing characters. Leonard is Sidney's deacon, an intellectual who has trouble connecting with people but is deeply committed to the church, and is also almost-canonically gay. (The show's gone well beyond hints, but nothing is quite confirmed yet.) I'll probably nominate Sidney and Sidney's friend Geordie Keating (a police officer) as well, but it's Leonard I plan to request.

The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock, Colonel Tick-Tock, Bob McCrumbs

This is a segment of the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast, a sort of affectionate Doctor Who parody in which the Colonel travels around doing things like saving Gilbert and Sullivan from a caveman who got caught up in a time storm and deposited in their flat. It's deeply silly and funny, yet with a thread of darkness that I like, and a thread of empathy and tenderness I like even more. The Colonel, like Leonard Finch, is almost-canonically gay, and Bob is almost-canonically his ex-lover.

There are only eleven short segments, which are listed here and available to download (legally and for free) here. You may find the first few episodes a bit difficult to love, because the segment started out heavily formulaic, but it has since evolved far beyond that.

Hyperdrive, Eduardo York

I recently re-watched Hyperdrive, a 2006-2007 science fiction comedy series starring Nick Frost, and fell in love with it all over again. It's set on board HMS Camden Lock, a ship which tends to see the less glamorous side of space travel, such as trying to convince alien governments to invest in Peterborough. Nick Frost plays bumbling but good-hearted and intermittently competent Captain Michael Henderson, and York (played brilliantly by Kevin Eldon) is his first officer, a raving militarist with a sadistic streak and a penchant for creepy cloning experiments. I adore York. He's awful, and hilarious in his awfulness, but there's a human being under all that, and show makes us see it while never pushing too far into sentimentality. The show as a whole definitely has flaws (some gross-out humor and an unpleasant streak of sexism), but there's enough good stuff to balance it out, I think.

I'm not completely totally 100% sure I'm going to nominate Hyperdrive--if we only get three nominations and something has to be replaced, Hyperdrive will be it--but I'm pretty sure.

I'll probably also request Tintin, but I'm assuming someone else will nominate it.

Anybody else have Yuletide ideas yet?

Crossposted at Dreamwidth (comment count unavailable comments); you can comment here or there.


food post

There's a lot I've been wanting to post about, so I'm going to divide posts up roughly by subject. This one's about cooking and baking.

I haven't been doing much wildly interesting cooking lately--for reasons of economy there's been a lot of "grain plus whatever vegetables are around plus some beans or maybe cheese." That sort of thing can be quite nice, of course, though I notice that all these healthy whole grains and vegetables are a lot, er, more challenging on the digestion than foods that are supposedly bad for you.

Moving right along--when I've eaten meat I've been stretching it by making meatballs (with lots of breadcrumbs), soup (I made avgolemono for the first time), and so on.

Luckily I hoarded food like crazy stocked up my pantry pretty well before the last few months of not-much-money, because it's a lot easier to eat decently through a rough patch if you have some meat (bought in quantity when it was on sale) in the freezer and cupboards full of rice and couscous and bulgur and spices and dried shiitake mushrooms and those jarred preserved lemons that were so cheap at Trader Joe's that one time.

I'm still trying to perfect my homemade yogurt. It tastes fine, but the texture can be a little grainy sometimes--not curdled, but slightly on the road to it. Adding a little powdered milk helps and so does not heating the milk too hot. Anybody have further advice on this score?

Really, making yogurt is even simpler than people claim it is.Collapse )

Making yogurt has, naturally, made me want to experiment with making my own cheese. Mozzarella seems to be quite easy (and definitely a case where you'll not only save money by doing it yourself, you'll get a better product) and I'm planning to try it as soon as I have the money to buy the rennet and citric acid that's required.

I also have plans, sometime in the next month or so, to make my own preserved lemons and pickles, both of these from recipes in Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Jerusalem cookbook. (Yes, I do fantasize about being one of those people who cure their own hams and make their own sausages from home-raised pigs, and make preserves with fruit from their own trees, and brew their own beer, and so on. If I could just find someone who wanted to do all the actual farming so I could stay indoors, away from the hot sun, and make delicious things . . . )

In baking news, I've finally found a focaccia recipe I like. It's from the Ottolenghi cookbook--I am still enthralled by all of Yotam Ottolenghi's books--with modifications by me. Below it the original recipe, with my changes afterwards.

recipe hereCollapse )

Now that I'm growing more comfortable with baking (a few years ago I was scared of baking and convinced I'd never be any good at it), I'm getting a bit more ambitious. Recently, to use up some chocolate the really needed using up because of the hot weather, I made another Ottolenghi recipe, Chocolate Krantz Cake. This is a rich yeasted dough that is rolled out flat, covered with chocolate and nuts, rolled up like a jelly roll, and then cut lengthwise in half and braided before baking. Oh, and then you pour sugar syrup over the finished cake. But it's actually not that difficult, and it's impressive and delicious. The recipe is reprinted here (the Ottolenghi website has the ingredient list but not the method, because they would quite like you to buy the book, and indeed all the Ottolenghi cookbooks are worth having). Do not, however, follow the blogger's recommendation to cut the amount of syrup. The cakes will absorb all the syrup and will not dissolve into mush. Brush the syrup over at a moderate pace. You'll get pools of syrup in the pan, but as the cakes cool they'll suck it all up and be moist and lovely.

My only suggestion is that if your kitchen is warm, it's a good idea to refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes or so after it's been rolled up but before cutting and braiding. Otherwise it will stretch a lot and you'll end up with a loaf that's too long for your pan. (If it happens, just cut the loaf in half and tuck them both in the pan side by side.)

I filled one cake according to the recipe, and for the other I substituted sesame seeds (toasted and coarsely ground to a chunky powder) for the walnuts. This tasted delicious but the sesame seeds were dry enough that that layers didn't hold together during braiding--next time I'll mix the sesame seeds into the chocolate. Or possibly use tahini mixed with sugar, because how luscious would that be?

It's worth making the whole recipe and getting two cakes, because while it's not hard it is rather a lot of work and the cakes freeze well. I recommend freezing the extra in portions that you can finish within a day or so, though, because it does go a bit stale if it sits out for longer than that.

What have you all been cooking? Read any good cookbooks lately? Eaten anything delicious? Mmm, food.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth (comment count unavailable comments); you can comment here or there.


time flies

My week of internet access ends in a couple of hours, so this is my "goodbye for now" post.

1) Fannishness

Still ridiculously obsessed with Kingsman, although it's not a good movie and the fandom is pretty much only interested in the schmoop (is that still a word people use) and the porn. Apparently Colin Firth + suits + spying + gentlemanliness = my kryptonite.

2) Reading

Still haven't started the Welcome to Night Vale novel.

I have read Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, the first in a short series of crime novels featuring ex-cop Jackson Brodie. It's a well-written, well constructed book, which I'd place in the nebulous borderland between mystery fiction and mimetic mainstream fiction (hence my calling it a crime novel rather than a mystery novel). It's a bit grim, as you'd expect from a book focusing on murdered girls (both little girls and teenagers), and I'm not sure if I was meant to dislike Jackson Brodie (a straight, rather bitterly divorced, fairly homophobic, middle-aged white guy with a fixation on masculinity) as much as I did. The supporting cast is more interesting and appealing.

3) Cooking

Not a lot. It's turned quite hot here and using the stove or oven doesn't appeal much. I do want to try making little mini-pies (baked in a muffin/cupcake pan) if I can ever bear the thought of baking. And I've got some chicken thawing in the fridge for chicken with olives and preserved lemon, a delicious dish I never seem to cook more than once or twice a year, even though it's not difficult.

And now I think I want to go lie down, turn the fan on, and read some more. This is Day 1 of a three-day weekend for me, which I'm extra happy about because prior to this I only had two days off work in the last seventeen. Laziness ahoy!

*waves goodbye*

Crossposted at Dreamwidth (comment count unavailable comments); you can comment here or there.

temporarily around

On Friday, having just been paid, I gave in to my craving for proper internet access and bought a week's worth. So I'll be around for a bit.

I posted here about the movie Kingsman and am still hoping more people will want to talk about it, because I appear to be obsessed but the fandom itself is, well, not interested in the aspects I'm interested in.

And on other fronts:

1) Reading

Somewhat to my surprise, given that it's a YA-marketed book about a girl who's half dragon, I very much enjoyed Rachel Hartman's Seraphina and its sequel Shadow Scale. These are smart, well-thought-out, morally complicated books, with interesting characters and worldbuilding. There's a het romance for the protagonist, but it's never the main focus, and the way it's handled (with the two lovers showing consideration and care for other people as well as each other) is refreshingly, well, adult. And there are a variety of queer characters. At times it felt the book was trying very very hard to be inclusive (Hartman creates a culture where the first thing you ask a stranger is "how may I pronoun you?"), but that's vastly better than all those Worlds Without Queer People out there, and I guess it only feels slightly forced because our own world is so bad about that stuff.

The most recent book I finished was Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory, a sort of steampunk western. I'm not a Bear fan, particularly, and I grabbed it from the library thinking I would probably hate it but hey, it's not like I'm spending money. To my surprise, I did like it, especially the first half (the second half, and in particular the last fifty pages, tried to cram in too much action and threw the story out of balance). I think it helped that the protagonist is a woman; part of what's put me off other Bear books is that I've read the ones with queer male main characters, and so far I've found the way she writes queer men to be kind of . . . condescending? Not quite Tragic Queerness, but close, and off in a way I can't put my finger on more specifically. Anyway, I didn't sense that at all with Karen, who is also queer. The romantic subplot was well-done, but I liked that the book is an adventure story with romance, not a romance story. I also enjoyed the setting, a Seattle-ish city in the late 1870s that mostly exists to supply and transport miners heading to Alaska. It's the west, but it's not the mesas-and-gunfights west that's so overdone.

Finally, at work I picked up an Advance Readers' Copy of Welcome to Night Vale, the forthcoming novel. That's my planned next read. I haven't listened to the show in a while, because after the Strex Corp arc, which I loved, I got bored by the return to randomly creepy business-as-usual. But I'm curious to see what Fink and Cranor can do with a (presumably) more structured narative.

2) Cooking

I'm still on my Mediterranean kick, which has caused unprecedented levels of salad-eating. Recently I made a delicious Radish and Fava Bean SaladCollapse )

Mostly these days I feel like I want to cook all the food in all the Ottolenghi/Ottolenghi & Tamimi cookbooks, forever. Their recipes are interesting without being recherché, cheffy, or even very complicated; there's something of the down-to-earth perspective I like in Nigella Lawson, but without Lawson's occasional tendency towards too many shortcuts. I feel . . . almost fannish about their books? It doesn't hurt that they're two very attractive gay men, either.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth (comment count unavailable comments); you can comment here or there.



Fandomless: Blue ship
when regiment is gone


November 2015



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