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ursulav

FC2013

Whew, it’s been a few days. I am back safely from Further Confusion 2013, which was completely awesome. The staff really did a bang up job for their GoHs (and I’m not saying that just because they flew me first class, although dude! Did you know you get REAL SILVERWARE?!?) took us to a really fabulous dinner—great people, great chatting, some of the best truffle mac ‘n cheese ever. I had a great time, got to see lots of friends and fans and hang out.

Sadly, I started to develop the plague pretty early on—first class is still in the circulating germ-tube that is a plane cabin—so by Saturday I had completely lost the upper registers in my voice and sounded like I’d been smoking Camel straights since kindergarten. (I felt fine, I just sounded horrible.) Thankfully the con had front-loaded the schedule on Friday, so the only things where I was really excitingly raspy were a late night writing podcast (which Kyell Gold kindly invited me to sit in on.)

Con progressed, plague progressed. I’d do okay in the morning and flag by evening. Carlota swung by and brought me pho to fortify me. Monday I went out birding with Sofawolf and some fellow artists (got Northern Pintail, American Avocet, and enough Ruddy Ducks to wallpaper a battleship.) Birding was awesome, weather was painfully spectacular, I felt great, but that probably doesn’t count because I’d get off my deathbed for Avocets.

Anyway, long story short, fantastic con, have been laid up for several days afterwards with the plague. (Well, you hold it off by force of will, you eventually pay the price. But I was determined that FC was gonna get their money’s worth, because dude! First class! Also, birds!)

A big thanks to everybody who made FC so awesome—staff, art buyers, fans and friends. Fantastic to see you all!

At the moment it is mixed freezing rain and sleet here, the car is glazed with ice like a Krispy Kreme donut, and I’m not going out driving in that again today. I would have a hard time living in San Jose for various reasons—cost of living, price of gardening space, allergies—but man, I could do with some of the weather about now…

 

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.



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Marshmallows are remarkably easy to make from scratch! They just require a really good stand mixer, because they will absolutely murder anything less. Apparently unusual marshmallow flavors are my nearly-useless superpower. Honey-cardamom has gotten a lot of requests, but I have a tendency to just go berzerk and start throwing all kinds of things into marshmallows. Chambord with pomegranate molasses is probably one of my favorite flavors, although the rosy lemon that I did this time around went down really well, too (sake, lemon juice, rosewater), and when I made "pecan pie" (spices, brown sugar, frangelico, and toasted pecans) it nearly started fights. Then I've done things like candy cane, Froot Loops, triple berry, cream soda, banana rum... Oh, and raspberry marshmallows coated in dark chocolate are absolute heaven. Too bad it's so hard to get the chocolate on them. >.>

Some of those do sound fantastic but… I must admit the one time I tried Chambord it tasted like cough medicine to me. Blech! But that honey/cardamom and rose/lemon sound interesting.

I have tasted, years ago, a pistachio/rosewater chilled confection that a friend insisted was Byzantine. It was good, odd, but very good.

I've been making sekanjabum - medieval gatorade, it's sometimes called. You take vinegar (white, red, cider, and you might add a dash of flavored balsamic) sugar and water, make a syrup, it's usually tart/sweet. Then you add mint/ginger and steep till it cools. If you can find lime mint it's astonishingly delicious! It is important to add this to water to taste when you drink it - I've seen the results of people trying to drink the syrup straight and it's entertaining for bystanders. I've tasted lemon/strawberry too, quite nice. Cold it's great but hot it's also quite nice when the weather's cold.

Hah! That's exactly what my husband said about Chambord. I don't think many people could drink it straight, it needs to be mixed with something. My sister-in-law also said something about drizzling it over baked brie. Which reminds me that I meant to try the Chambord cut with Celtic Crossing...

The lemon and rosewater is actually a cocktail recipe that I found and served at my wedding. Sake, syrup, lemonade, and rosewater. Makes a delightfully refreshing drink on a summer afternoon, although apparently it went down so easily it hit some of my guests a little harder than they had anticipated.

The sekanjabum intrigues me. Do you have a recipe?

...Huh. Suddenly my brain is screaming that I need to make chilled agar jelly and flavor it with rosewater. Possibly with some kind of lavender confection suspended in the middle. I need to remind that part of my brain that I'm doing my annual charity cooking marathon next weekend and really don't need more ideas, considering the vat of crepe batter I've got in the fridge right now.

Rosewater/lavender? That could be wonderful - you might use violet petals, I hear they're edible though I haven't tried them.

Sekanjebum. Well, my recipe (others vary, do try them) is this:

4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups distilled vinegar

bring to a boil, hard boil for about five minutes to turn into syrup, turn it off

add 2 very generous cups of fresh mint leaf and the small stems. I love my apple mint, (could be a pineapple mint) and if you can find lime mint use it! One large, fresh, thinly sliced ginger and don't bother to peel it. Throw those in, cover and let steep overnight, then strain out the debris and bottle. Doesn't seem to need refrigeration because of the high sugar content but if it gets more water in it I'm told that will shorten the shelf life. Do remember to use this syrup cut with water - it's potent.

I have added a dash of blackberry infused balsamic or a vanilla/blood orange/fig flavored one I found at World Market - both are wonderful. I use the distilled vinegar and sugar because they have the least intrusive flavors and I want my mint/ginger and other additives to give the main flavors. I have tried a honey/lemon/mint which is ok, so is the lemon/strawberry which is better, but I keep coming back to ginger/mint. Chilled it's very refreshing on a hot day, hot it's very pleasing in cold weather and add horehound for a wonderful hot drink to sooth a sore throat and sniffles.

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