Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review: "Urban Enemies" by Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong Et Al

"Urban Enemies" by Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Somers et al is a short story anthology and will be published by Gallery Books on August 1, 2017. I've found myself being drawn to sic-fi and fantasy kinds of mystery books for a year now and when this book came up for review I jumped at the chance to find some new authors. The anthology already had two authors I knew and enjoyed, Jim Butcher who writes The Dresden Files and Kelley Armstrong who, among other things, writes the Cainsville Series which I love.

I thought it would be a fun way to get to know a few new authors easily. Short stories have such a lovely fit sometimes between long novels. Just a few hours here and there, sprinkled among big books can clean the palate so to speak.


The biggest reason I wanted to read "Urban Enemies" was that I could use an influx of new blood to my reading list as I've read every book all my favorite authors have written so far. I must admit, I was slightly disappointed. I don't have high expectations for anthologies as I assume a great short story can be as hard to write as a great novel but I did hope to be entertained. As I said above, I wanted to sprinkle them between other novels like candy after a good meal. What happened was I wasn't as entertained as I had hoped.

Firstly, other readers have mentioned that the Dresden story by Jim Butcher was a repeat from another anthology (which isn't fair) so his short story shouldn't have been touted as the number one in the book. I will say that it was a very good short story and will probably get new readers to try The Dresden Series. Secondly, I found that some of the authors assumed the reader had some knowledge of their series so their stories were too convoluted for a first time reader of their work. In some cases I felt like I'd been dropped from a high place into another universe that I knew nothing about and didn't have a translator or guide with me. Those I ended up skipping as I was so confused by the third page I couldn't stand another sentence. 

A third reason this anthology did not win a fourth star is that even the good stories, like from my favorite author Kelley Armstrong, seemed to be a little lackluster. I found myself liking the story but being sorry that no new reader would be turned onto her work because the sparkle her words usually have just didn't materialize in her story. That happened a few times with several authors too. 


Finally, I must admit, I gave up without finishing a few stories. All for the reasons given above. One reviewers said she much prefers novels to these short stories and I totally agree. If these stories brought new readers to an author then I'm thrilled. But if you're thinking of buying this anthology for the same reason I wanted to review it, then try noting the names of the authors who participated and go get their first book of the series. It's well worth doing. I may do that with a few authors that I feel didn't give me their best. I want to still give them a chance, as I said, I need new blood in my reading list. ;o)
Best,

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When Any Talent You Have...

...seems to have left the building. You know that feeling when you wonder where your inspiration/talent/muse went off to when you were working hard trying to paint something? Why did whatever meager talent you seem to possess not run into your brush today? What the hell happened to that muse you pay so much money for? Did my inspiration go out drinking with my muse and they both got lost-drunk-abducted??!?


I've got no idea what happened, but when one finds oneself in this annoying position, don't despair. Bad art happens to good people. Get over yourself, go feed your muse some good chocolate. Give your inspiration a good, strong cuppa coffee. Take the night off and get back on the proverbial horse tomorrow. K? Ya, that's my plan... now where the hell is that chocolate? ;o)

Later Gator, I gotta go sober up my team. I don't drink but they obviously do. *Jenn rolls her eyes at her virtual muse". Oh and just so I can officially say I participated, I'm hooking up with #WorldWatercolorMonth. If you want to join us you have more than a month to join in the fun.

Best,

Friday, July 7, 2017

Superman Needs A Phone Booth

For those of you who come here NOT for quiche recipes,  LOL, here's some art. My friend Linda sent me samples of Peerless watercolors and I swatched them the other day. They're wonderfully bright and transparent!

Top Line (L-R):
amethyst
jaqueminot pink
deep yellow
orange yellow
daffodil yellow

Bottom Line (L-R):
bismark brown
pearl grey
olive
viridian green
butterfly wing

I also sent Linda a little package and the art I sent was a postcard painting of a telephone booth, I named it "Calling Card". It was very strange and difficult working so small. I'm used to larger pieces of paper but it was wonderfully intricate and it was such fun to try and capture all the shadows. I'm becoming addicted to doing shadows in art. Ahh god help me, I look at stuff to see it's color and how the light hits it just in case I want to paint it! I'm guessing that's the heart of an artist, huh?

Title: "Calling Card"
What things make you or the artists around you artists at heart? I'd love to hear your response in the comments.  I'm hooking up with PPF, come join us!
Best,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Crustless Quiche & Art Stuff

DEEP-Dish Quiche Pan
(biggest we could find, ignore
the mushy sentiment, lol)
We are indulging in crustless quiche lately. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that in the last month or so I've made about ten quiches! We've been making them for dinner twice a week in every incarnation we can think of. They're really, really good for you without the crust and now that I've perfected the recipe, I dare you to NOT like this quiche.

One of the best things about quiche is that you can  put practically ANYTHING in the "guts" of it to add flavor. Also, a dozen raw eggs are cheap and last an inordinately long time in the fridge. Finally, like me, you can make up the "guts" of the quiche in bulk, freeze them then as long as you always have some eggs, milk and potato starch, you're good to go for dinner that will serve SIX.

Here's my recipe for THE MOST DELICIOUS CRUSTLESS QUICHE you'll ever have, I promise. Now, you can modify all of the ingredients with different veggies, meats, cheeses and spices you want but I'll give you some guidelines.

#1 Don't skip the PESTO!!!
#2 Spray the pan WELL
#3 Use 2 cups "guts" per quiche

This is assuming you're using a pan of similar proportions to the one I have above. My quiche pan holds about 5 cups, this makes it very full but still movable, I put it on a cookie sheet just in case. Learned THAT lesson... twice ;o). Yep, this is me rolling my eyes at the screen. *Geez Jenn, you'd think you'd learn the first time, after you spilled a third of your quiche into a hot oven. Holy HELL Batman, what a mess!* 

The pan is 9 inches (22.5 cm) in diameter (not including fluting) and a little less than 2 inches (5 cm) high. Feel free to use sautéed spinach or baby kale, sautéed asparagus or broccoli or your other favorite veggie. I've substituted out chicken, pork loin, breakfast sausage, bacon and ground beef as the meat. I've always used an aged cheddar as the cheese but I'm sure you can come up with other great combos with the fillings. 


My final addition, just in the last week has been PESTO. Holy YUM Batman, Costco's own brand of Pesto taste divine in quiche! (Ok, it tastes divine on anything, even just on the spoon, lol. Seriously, how did I live without Kirkland Pesto for fortyish years?!??).

Ok, finally, here's the basic recipe:

Jenn's Awesome Crustless Quiche

Ingredients:
12 eggs
4 Tbsp potato starch
1 cup (scant) milk of choice (we make our own out of cashews, see recipe below)
1 tsp salt
generous pepper
~ two Tbsp Pesto
2 cups quiche guts

For quiche guts:
(This is what I combined last week, no measurements necessary, get creative!)
  • Costco barbecued chicken
  • package of breakfast sausage or bacon
  • head or two of broccoli
  • shredded cheese of choice
  • Kirkland Pesto from Costco
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • an onion or large handful of dried flakes of onion
  • any other veggie that's not watery (carrots, celery, cauliflower, asparagus, sweet potato)
{Cook all ingredients and either put them through a chopper or chop them up by hand (not including the pesto). Julienne or mince the sun-dried tomatoes. Mix all that you have in a big bowl then measure out into portion sizes of about two scant cups. Add 1/4 cup of Pesto to each 2 cups of "guts". Freeze in 2 cup containers.}

Directions:
  1. Put "guts" into well sprayed quiche pan.
  2. Whisk the eggs, pesto, s&p, potato starch and milk together. Pour over guts.
  3. Bake @ 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle a little extra cheese over top of quiche and let melt as you make a salad to go with dinner! Cut into six pieces. Enjoy!


Cashew Milk
(tastes awesome, no grittiness, it's similar to the thickness of whole milk)

Ingredients:
1 blender
1 cup cashews
4 cups water
dash of salt
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (unnecessary if making this for quiche)
1 tsp vanilla (unnecessary if making this for quiche)

Directions:
  1. Blend nuts and two cups water on high for two minutes.
  2. Stop blender and add the other two cups of water+salt (and other ingred. if using).
  3. Blend 30 seconds more. Pour into bottles. Recipe makes 5 cups of milk.
  4. Stores in fridge for about 4-5 days.
I'd love to hear if you LOVE quiche and what you think of the recipe. What do YOU put in your quiche? HELP ME with new flavor combinations!!

Best,
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