We got another awesome couple of reviews too. Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming.
Two upcoming books I've got my eye on (other than the one I'm on pins and needles about of course):
Beata, the woman behind Rose Hip Designs, has got to be one of the loveliest gals I know. I've had the great pleasure of meeting her in person at my local farmer's market, and often run into her at my favourite local crafty events. In addition to being an all around delightful person, she's also as talented as all get-out. I always pour over her table trying to restrain myself from buying my darling god-daughter one of each of her gorgeous dresses, skirts and general kids clothes, and telling myself that I really don't need another bag/pillow/what-have you. This Christmas, however, when I saw her babushka dolls I could not resist. Could you? Really? (This photo here is very similar to the little gal I now have hanging by my desk). Beata has finally opened herself up an Etsy store today (I've been wishing she would do this for ages so others not able to make our East Van Farmer's Market could partake in her lovelies) and it looks like I'm not her only fan. I just checked and 49 of her 60 babushkas are already gone, so get yours quick! I'm trying to decide between these two friends for my gal.
If you're interested in getting a sneak peek at my book (hitting shelves in May 08), then have a wander over to the website for a sample (the intro and first chapter most specifically). And do check out the website for The Boss of You (which has moved to www.laurenandemira.com, though bosslady.ca still works), if you're on the lookout for business advice. Thanks to the motivation of my kick-ass co-author/business partner Lauren, we've started blogging there in earnest. Oh, and you can also join us on Facebook, if you really want to go for it.
The night before we left for Mexico I made burritos. "Mexican? Seriously? Before we go to Mexico?" Was Martin's first comment when he entered the kitchen. And ya, when he put it that way it did seem a little ridiculous, but I was just trying to find a way to use up ingredients in the fridge. As it turns out, we ate very little Mexican food in Mexico. Unless you count margaritas. Which I don't. While Puerto Vallarta is a very easy town to vacation in (which is exactly what we were looking for), and while the food there is really quite wonderful overall, very little of what is authentic is vegetarian. Or even close. I knew this going down, but I hadn't really absorbed the reality of it. And so, because I can not bring myself to eat at overly cheesy (in all possible senses of that word) tex-mex style tourista locales (which were the only places offering Mexican with anything resembling a veggie option) we ate a lot of Italian. Quite a lot actually. And it was really pretty good. Turns out there's a heck of a lot of Italian food in Puerto Vallarta, some of it made by expat Italians who have capitalized on the availability of awesome fresh local staples like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants (most of which are grown for export up here in the winter months) to make some really decent Italian food, including homemade pasta and gnocchi that was nearly as good as dishes I've had in Italy. It all made me feel a bit mixed up and did nothing to help my bad habit of confusing Spanish and Italian vocabulary -- for some reason I have the most trouble with numbers and again found myself in the back of a cab trying to give an address with a "5" in it as cinque instead of cinco, this has happened before but in a French version -- but still the eating was good. This isn't to say we abandoned Mexican food altogether. We partook in some awesome street corn (much like this kind Heidi Swanson includes in her cookbook), had some beautiful veggie enchilladas made specially in one restaurant, and in the kitchen in our room we partook in gorgeous avocados, tomatillos, fresh juicy limes and delicate corn tortillas.
Overall, the trip was a success. Which is to say, we did very little, and other than the overabundance of pasta/pizza I have very little to report. It was easy. I read two books from front to back. We did the NY Times crossword. We napped in chairs perched in front of the ocean. And, just to round out the Mexican experience we had one day, now known as Tequilla Wednesday, where we overdid it just a bit.
It's lovely to be home though. Spring is all over the place in my garden, with daffodils even blooming in sunny corner! Now I need to set about getting the house in order for the week, and planning some groceries to ensure that we don't eat a spec of pasta for the next week or so.
I'm going to have to ask you to forgive me some book news here. Technically all of this info should live over at the book website, but I have a feeling I won't be able to contain it all over there. We got our first review today from Publisher's Weekly and it's positive! Big huge sigh of relief. While I'm trying to brace myself for the inevitable negative review, I have to say it's nice to start on a positive note. You can read the full review here, but this is my favourite part:
The authors cover the fundamentals of crafting a mission statement, developing branding, handling finances and legal issues, hiring good employees and expanding your business with admirable clarity, bolstered by success stories, helpful exercises and sample budgets.
I know it's dorky, but given how much work went into editing that sucker, I'm kind of thrilled by the "admirable clarity" part. It makes all those rewrites feel a little more worth it. Oh and if you're keeping track, we've updated the name of the book's blog from Boss Lady to LaurenandEmira.com. Since the book didn't end up being called Boss Lady we didn't want to confuse things. Besides, this way it's about building the Lauren and Emira empire, which was always the plan anyway.
Several summers ago, my beloved yoga teacher and friend introduced me to the delights of a hint of rosewater in a pitcher of cool water as a hot summer thirst quencher. The recipe is quite simple: take one large pitcher of pure water, add a bit of rosewater (say 1-2 tsps per pitcher) and drink. You can also add a bit of fresh lemon, which balances the floral taste and makes for a particularly refreshing drink. This is not a drink for everyone, and I would caution that many folks I have served it to respond by saying, in a non-too-impressed tone: "it tastes like flowers." And they're right. It does. Rather a lot. Like roses in fact. So if that isn't your thing, I'd recommend skipping this one. If it is, however, this is a wonderful and easy way to make a fabulous treat for yourself.
These days, the blossoms are threatening to bloom in our neck of the world and I even saw a patch of daffodils in full bloom on a run the other morning (granted they were next to a south facing wall, but still). Having had a particularly crummy summer last year in these parts, I'm finding myself aching for Spring and already fast fowarding mentally to summer's arrival. I've jump started things and started drinking this rosewater drink while out in the garden planting seeds and digging out weeds. I like to think it helps the flowers along.
While searching for places online to buy culinary rosewater, (I didn't really find any useful ones, so try any Arabic, Greek or Indian market, it comes in bottles for about $5), I came across this awesome website for the Human Flower Project. The Human Flower Project describes itself as "The Human Flower Project is an international newsgroup, photo album and
discussion of how people live through flowers. We report on art,
medicine, society, politics, religion, and commerce." Lovely! Read their article on making rosewater in Iran here. Their entire Food category is in fact worth a browse if you're the flower lovin' culinary type.
Heidi Swanson is regularly recommends Agave syrup in her recipes at 101 Cookbooks and in Super Natural Cooking, and it is a natural sweetener that often comes up in vegan cookbooks (being safe for those vegans who eschew honey). I've never tried using it before, always thinking "well I've got plenty of honey, surely I don't need yet another thing to crowd my baking drawer." However, I'm on a mission to try to recreate the Puffed Wheat Squares of my childhood in a more health friendly format (meaning no corn syrup) and so decided to pick up a bottle of agave syrup at the store this weekend while perusing the baking isle. I've yet to try it in my Puffed Wheat Square adventures, but I can report that it is indeed an awesome pantry addition.
With a milder flavour and much less sweet than the local honeys I buy (or corn syrup for that matter) agave syrup is an excellent and easy way to add a bit of sweetness to a dish. Agave syrup has a much lower sweetness factor, but a really nice flavour to it, and it's very easy to pour/measure and dissolve into things (not nearly as sticky as some sweeteners). And, apparently it has a much lower glycemic index than other sugars. I've used it several times since I bought it now, in tea, in a spicy asian ginger sauce, in a salad dressing and in a tofu marinade. I can see where it would be particularly well suited to sweetening drinks like homemade summer iced teas as it dissolves really easily and isn't an overpowering flavour. There's a great little article about it over at Mighty Foods, along with some links to recipes that use it. I still need to try it out for my Puffed Wheat Squares and I'm not sure if you can bring it to a rolling boil like you can corn syrup, but when I find out, I'll let you know.
I've got a strong itch to get sewing. While right now I have exactly no time to actually scratch that itch, I've got a number of plans up my sleeves, and decided this weekend to take stock of my fabric stash and available patterns/project wish list and plot something out as a project for when we return from some sunshine. Then I made my big mistake: I went online to seek out a pattern for a basic bias cut slip (something I've been looking for, for ages) which I want to use to make some simple night dresses with some lovely Heather Bailey fabric I've got collecting dust. While I found a lead on a book that may hold the secrets to such a pattern and requested it from my local library, I also found this new Amy Butler tunic pattern. And, after telling myself very sternly that another pattern was the last thing I needed, when I've already got piles of unsewn projects in the basement I went ahead and ordered it. Then, because I could get free shipping if I ordered two, I also ordered this one. And now I find myself watching some ebay auctions on more fabric. This now leaves me with at least 3 projects - tunic, slip and skirt - to complete and a book tour to plan all in the next few weeks. I sure hope I come back from the beach good and rested.
Oh, and speaking of sewing, Alicia has an awesome Binding 101 tutorial on her site, if like me you are binding challenged.