Lilah and I had a little trip to California to visit my parents, and I got a little knitting done. Not as much as B.C. (Before Children) trips, when I would knit in the car, on the plane, while we sat and watched movies or talked, but some! I finished the waist decreases on my No-Tuss, No-Muss Tussie Mussie. Here she is:
Even though I'm knitting back and forth, you can see I've still managed to leave a bit of a ladder at the sides. I don't suppose it will show that much, and I hope blocking will decrease the effect a bit. I wasn't really pulling the stitch after the markers very snug. It's curling wickedly right now, but again, I have high hopes for blocking. I have three boring inches, then the waist increases. But it's getting closer to sweater-ness. I think the sleeves on this are going to feel endless to me because I'll be impatient to get the sweater done. We'll see!
Reading: I am now on LibraryThing! My library is right here. My friend Holly talked me into it, and it is great fun. She and I post to On My Bookshelf, book news, reviews of what we've read. You might notice I just copy and paste my book reviews between here and there.
As you know, I read a lot of mystery series. I have my favorites, but I always hope for a new series that I'll love. I've tried several lately, with mixed results. I finally have a new favorite, the Cece Caruso series by Susan Kandel. They are smart, funny, well-written, and well-plotted. The West Hollywood setting is fun and well-realized, and Cece's career (biographer of mystery authors) adds a fun, fresh element to this series. I read Not A Girl Detective first (about Carolyn Keene, the pseudonymous author of the Nancy Drew books) because I loved Nancy Drew, though it's the second in the series. It was great fun, and I zipped through the first, I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason, as well, and though I'm less of a Perry Mason fan than a Nancy Drew fan, I still loved it. I'm nearly finished with Shamus in the Green Room, the third (which, interestingly enough, is called Sam Spade in the Green Room in the preview printed at the end of Not A Girl Detective--this makes more sense, as I have no idea who Shamus is and I only have about 60 pages left). Christietown is the fourth, and then I'll be going into withdrawal.
Suzanne Brockmann writes suspense novels that are also romance novels (I phrase it this way because I think the suspense is more central than in most romantic suspense novels). All Through the Night, the 12th in her Troubleshooters series, is a short holiday novel about a wedding. Here's the biggie: Jules and Robin, two guys, are getting married. Brockmann includes a letter at the end of the book explaining that her son is gay, and the thought of his not being permitted to marry really upsets her. She's donating all proceeds from this book to Mass Equality. The book isn't perfect. Brockmann sort of drops at least one outside subplot, and every two pages, the guys are looking at each other and either thinking or saying how much they want to have sex. The straight couples do this a bit, but not to the sex-crazed extent to which Jules and Robin do. This seemed a slightly overcompensatory way of not shying away from gay sex, but it plays on the perception many people have that gay relationships are only about sex (which, in turn, leads to stereotypes like all gay men are promiscuous). Brockmann is careful to state over and over that Robin and Jules love each other and want to be together, and she shows this admirably, but it's a bit obscured by all the sex, sex, sex that gets a smidge tiresome (and I believe I would have felt that way if it had been a hetero couple as well). But I just skimmed past those bits when they got annoying, and I still recommend this book for two reasons: 1. It may be the first gay romance novel written by a mainstream author and 2. Brockmann does suspense very well, and I stayed up WAY too late reading this one, even though I was jet lagged and exhausted. You don't have to have read the previous books in the Troubleshooters series to follow this one.
Writing: I went to a fantastic creative writing class at Emory before we left for California, led by Jim Grimsley. I think he had just started at Emory when I was there, so I didn't have any classes with him then. He's a fantastic writer and a really, really good creative writing teacher (these do NOT always go together). The class was on revision, and I have a clear idea of how to restructure my murder mystery now. Sadly, I do not really have the time. I may send Lilah and Matt to the zoo or something this weekend and try to get a jump on that. It's hard to get excited about revising when I don't have the time to do it.
Cooking: We were traveling, but we grilled a couple of times, so I do have recipes. My little brother has a Carne Asada recipe that he loves, so we made that, with Tofu Asada for me. Sounds weird, tastes good. The amounts may be a little off, since he made a huge amount of marinade for lots of beef and I just used a little, so I'm estimating. Taste it on a chip and see how you like it--it should make a nice salsa if the proportions are good. After we skewered the tofu, we popped portabella mushrooms in the marinade and grilled those, too. Yum. On the Grilled Tofu Veggie Skewers, we made veggie skewers for the non-vegetarians, too, so there may be extra veggies. I can't think of that as a bad thing!
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 12 rectangles
6 small portabella mushrooms, rinsed
2 TBL fresh lime juice
2 TBL chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, minced, seeds removed (or leave in for extra heat)
2 TBL chopped cilantro
Combine tofu, lime juice, onion, garlic, chile, and cilantro in a baggie. Marinate at least 20 minutes, turning as needed to cover all tofu. Remove tofu and place on skewers so that long sides of rectangles will touch grill. Place portabellas in bag and marinate 20 minutes. Grill on grill sprayed with nonstick spray, turning once, until tofu and portabellas are browned (tofu will take several minutes longer). Serve with black beans, corn tortillas, avocado, and any other accompaniments you'd like.
Grilled Tofu and Veggies
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz. white mushrooms, rinsed and stems removed
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (12 chunks)
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tsp dark sesame oil
Marinate tofu in soy sauce, vinegar, and oil for at least 20 minutes, turning as needed. Arrange with veggies on skewers. Spray with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until tofu and veggies are browned, turning once.