Oct 22 2019

Sherlock Holmes And The Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove

I’m conceding defeat and I’m not even sure whom to. See, despite being an ardent mystery fan since a wee girl, I’ve been lukewarm at most to the Sherlock Holmes canon, and have had very little interest in reading the Sherlockiana that has spawned since. Not even Neil Gaiman’s brilliant A Study In Emerald could draw me in, and I waved off my delight in G. S. Denning’s Warlock Holmes series as being of a similar exception, given the overtly supernatural element common to both. Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse’s Mycroft & Sherlock books were also, I rationalized, exceptions since they focused on the deeds of Sherlock’s siblings, and not on the tiresome detective and his sentimental companion themselves. Not even my appreciation for the most recent adaptations of Sherlock on the screen — whether they be Guy Richie’s movies, the Beeb’s episodes or the excellent Elementary — could sway me.

So I’m not sure why I said yes when the magnificent Polly Grice over at Titan Books offered me a copy of James Lovegrove’s Sherlock Holmes And The Christmas Demon. Perhaps it was because of all the other Titan-published Sherlock-adjacent books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps it was because I absolutely adored what James Lovegrove did with his recent Firefly novels. Regardless, reader, I trusted the sources enough to finally say yes.

There was always the chance, of course, that I’d find this novel tiresome in the same ways I find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works tedious. All the hallmarks of the original Sherlock stories are still present here in this gorgeously bound volume but Mr Lovegrove’s deftness of touch makes it so that I don’t find the relationship between the main characters irritating, and that I’m not wildly annoyed by the “exotic” touches to the story (just thinking of The Speckled Band still makes me incredibly grouchy.) While this wasn’t a difficult mystery to solve — tho some of the clues were quite ingenious — it held together better for me than a lot of the original canon, and was so entertaining as to completely batter down my resistance to new material. Plus, I do love a Victorian Christmas! Perhaps I would have been grumpier if this book had come out after Halloween, as I’m always aggrieved at retailers ignoring Thanksgiving due to profit margins being better on the bracketing holidays, but with the weather turning and the supernatural bent to this Christmas tale, it felt like perfect timing. I can’t imagine a cozier new book for fans of classic mysteries to curl up with as winter looms, and sincerely hope this book finds its way into many a mystery-lover’s stocking as Yuletide approaches. It has certainly given me the gift of appreciation for new Sherlockiana, and for that I am thankful.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/22/sherlock-holmes-and-the-christmas-demon-by-james-lovegrove/

Oct 20 2019

Milkman by Anna Burns

I mean, it’s not the worst Man Booker winner I can think of.

If for nothing else, I do appreciate Milkman for being the first Northern Irish fiction I’ve read that I can remember: I’ve read plenty of stuff from Ireland but never from “over-the-border” so this was very illuminating. As someone born on the tail end of the 1970s, on the other side of the world, this was also a much appreciated look into a setting very alien to me. The terror and grief that wracked so many of these places that I would visit years later in times of peace now feel like an exotic relic, when they should really serve as a cautionary tale for anyone with an impulse to political violence.

Anna Burns’ Milkman deals with life in a society doubly repressed, first by the defenders-of-state who violate the rights of their citizens under the pretext of hunting for dissidents and terrorists, and then by the renouncers-of-state whose paranoia further stifles the existence of the average person. Our unnamed narrator is an 18 year-old woman whose quiet resistance to not only her oppressors but also to the narrow lane in which society wants to place her comes mainly in the form of reading pre-20th-century fiction while walking all over town. She also has a maybe-boyfriend whom she doesn’t want to introduce to her overbearing mother, for various reasons Ms Burns describes much more artfully than I could in this review.

Maybe-girlfriend’s sense of equilibrium is shattered when the titular Milkman heaves into view. He approaches her one day as she’s walking, offering her a lift, and next thing she knows, she’s being gossiped about as the doxy to a highly-placed renouncer, who also happens to be middle-aged and married. Milkman’s blandishments seem so mild as he continues to “accidentally” run into her, but the underlying threat of violence is ever present as Maybe-girlfriend struggles to escape his attentions.

This account of one woman being stalked by a violent thug serves as the focus for a larger story about a society in turmoil, and I greatly admired the grace with which Ms Burns builds her message. For the most part I enjoyed being in Maybe-Girlfriend’s head for this stream-of-consciousness narrative, except for a large chunk of the middle, where she goes on at length about her feelings about her feelings. I really hate when authors do this: please trust in your writing and your readers that we can tell what your characters are feeling about their feelings without you explicitly telling us.

Otherwise, it was a pretty good story, if not the easiest read. Maybe-girlfriend’s deepening discomfort with the Milkman situation was compelling and relatable, as was the depiction of life in an insular conservative community. Her relationship with her mother, especially, reminded me very much of my own. I was occasionally frustrated by the narrator’s passivity and unwillingness to communicate, but being eighteen and subject to malicious gossip is more than enough excuse for shutting down. Also, I found wee sisters to be entirely charming creatures. Overall, a worthy read but hardly a page turner. The Booker people could have chosen worse.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/20/milkman-by-anna-burns/

Oct 19 2019

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin

I gave myself a few days to properly mull over this book, and you guys. My biggest impression still is “that’s not okay.”

First, stylistically (thematically?), I really, really hated that N. K. Jemisin veered away from the hard sci-fi of the first novel to get all fake(?) magicky. Honestly, when Alabaster (still hate that guy) actually said the word, I literally burst out, “Oh, come on!” I understand that any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic but can we not? You could call it electromagnetic force or leap straight to quantum theory and I would not care enough to suspend disbelief, but magic? Ironically, calling it that drained a lot of the magic out of the book for me. I’m okay with not understanding more than the rudiments of an author’s sci-fi. I’m not okay with having a very cool post-apocalyptic far future world turned into fairyland for no discernible reason whatsoever. No judgment against fairylands, which I also happen to adore, but not as substitutes for science-based approaches. It’s especially galling when this series started out as sci-fi cloaked in dystopian fantasy, only to have the author psyche us out by saying “haha, actually, it’s still fantasy.” Reeks of intellectual laziness.

And then there was Essun’s use of disproportionate force later on in the book. Unlike Doug, I didn’t have a problem with what Nassun did earlier on — as I’ve stated in other reviews, kids do a lot of dumb and terrible things because they simply have no idea of the consequences — but I’m getting tired of Essun living in her feelings all the time. Yes, it’s a crazy ass time and the world is falling down around her ears in a continuous cycle of misery, but a) she’d already proven that she could literally disarm someone, and b) even if PTSD caused the overreaction, in the immortal words of Jake Peralta, “cool story, still murder.” Nassun does terrible things because she doesn’t know any better but Essun just keeps defaulting to killing and it’s not fun to read. She isn’t growing as a person and by the end of The Obelisk Gate, I found it very hard to empathize with her.

I also feel like certain themes of the book are a really sloppy interpretation of current American affairs, which is a disservice to those actual issues. While in the real world, black kids are maltreated and murdered because assholes weaponize black bodies, orogenes actually are living weapons: I feel like we’re meant to correlate the two but it just doesn’t work. I want to read books about black empowerment but not about using those powers wantonly, and seemingly primarily, to destroy, thereby fulfilling the negative predictions of racists. And Essun’s continuing violence while claiming PTSD feels more like something a cop would say than a civilian.

Idk, maybe the final book in the series and the inevitable mother-daughter showdown will make this second installment less gross to me, much like how season three of Jessica Jones (a.k.a the extended Billie Eilish video) made sense of what they did to *cough*ruin*cough* a beloved character in season two. I have The Stone Sky on hold now with the library so we shall see!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/19/the-obelisk-gate-the-broken-earth-2-by-n-k-jemisin/

Oct 16 2019

Firefly – The Big Damn Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel (Review Part IV)

Ugh, I’m so sad to be coming to the end of this review series! It’s been such a delight to cook my way through this terrific volume, and I’m sad that our journey together ends here. Of course, I’d love to hear if any of you whip up some of the amazing treats in this cookbook, so do comment here or send me a message if you do! And, if you need a refresher, you can always check out Parts I, II and III once more.

So what else is there to say about this superlative book? Aside from being a whip-smart cookbook that extrapolates beautifully from the show and movie to provide a surprising depth and breadth of recipes, Firefly — The Big Damn Cookbook also perfectly captures the voices and tone of the characters as each “contributes” to the volume. The pictures are gorgeous and evocative, even if some of the larger Firefly stills lack the quality of the rest of the photos, an unfortunate aftereffect of the differences in high-definition technology then and now. Overall, however, this is a terrific gift both for the Firefly fan and for anyone who enjoys a quality cookbook.

For our last review column today, we’re going to make something I very much share Shepherd Book’s philosophy on, embracing its versatility and how every culture makes their own version of this delicious dish (recipe lightly edited for format):

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Book’s Street Chicken Skewers

2 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1 Tbsp five-spice mix
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp paprika or spicy pepper

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cornstarch and paprika. Cover and let marinate at least 2 hours. At the same time, submerge several bamboo skewers in water to soak.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450°F and set out a baking sheet. Thread the pieces of chicken onto the soaked bamboo skewers and set on the baking sheet. Reserve the marinade. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, pour the marinade liquid into a pan, bring up to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for around 5 minutes. In a separate small bowl, combine the cornstarch with a splash of cold water, stirring until dissolved. Add the cornstarch solution to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for another minute or two, until combined and thick. Remove from heat. When the chicken skewers are finished cooking, either dip them in the sauce or brush the sauce onto the skewers. Sprinkle with paprika and serve hot.

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These were so incredibly delicious, with a really nice mix of sweet and savory on the perfectly cooked thigh meat. I grew up eating satay and these skewers give that traditional dish a run for its money. The five-spice mix was really great for adding to the marinade, tho speaking of marinating, I had so much liquid that I decided to toss in a few more cubed chicken thighs, resulting in enough meat for 8 skewers instead of the 4-6 suggested by the cookbook.

This was a really terrific dish to close out on, and I hope you get a chance to try some of the recipes from this amazing cookbook too! Shameless self-promotion time: I also run a weekly cooking column over at CriminalElement.com, so if you want to see more book-cooking, do join me over there. In the meantime, many thanks to Titan Books for this opportunity!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/16/firefly-the-big-damn-cookbook-by-chelsea-monroe-cassel-review-part-iv/

Oct 15 2019

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

One of the unusual things that Naomi Novik does in Spinning Silver — so unusual, in fact, that I can’t think of another fantasy book that does it — is to state that some of her main characters are Jews. The first chapter lays out the hints: the characters are moneylenders in a small town whose other contextual clues point to it being in an analog of Eastern Europe; they are held separate from most of the other townspeople, who cheat them when they can; the main characters celebrate a different mid-winter holiday than their neighbors. They are not named as Jewish until the third chapter, when they go visit more prosperous extended family in the nearest city.

Spinning Silver

Another unusual thing that Novik does is to show unsentimentally what it meant to be poor in the kind of medieval setting common to many fantasy novels. This is not the Shire of mushrooms, elevenses and gentleman farmers. This is a family running out of food at the end of winter because the mother has died, the father is an alcoholic and sold the kid goat for drink, so not only was there no meat from it, the mama goat stopped giving milk.

Miryem, the first first-person narrator of Spinning Silver, is the daughter of the only Jewish family in a small town so unimportant it does not even have a proper name. Her father is the local moneylender, but he is too kind, or perhaps too softhearted, to be very good at it. The villagers bully him, and pay back as little as possible. But the year that she turns sixteen, the winter is colder than ever before, her mother is ill, there is no money for medicine, and they are scraping together wood for candles, having burned the last of the oil. Miryem goes through her father’s books, finds out what everyone owes, and sets out before dawn to go collecting.

“They tried to put me off, of course, some of them laughed at me. … I stood on their doorsteps, and I brought out my list, and I told them how much they had borrowed, and what they had paid, and how much interest they owed besides.
“They spluttered and argued and some of them shouted. No one had ever shouted at me in my life: my mother with her quiet voice, my gentle father. But I found something bitter inside myself, something of that winter blown into my heart: the sound of my mother coughing, and the memory of the story the way they’d told it in the village square many times, about a girl who made herself a queen with someone else’s gold, and never paid her debts. I stayed in their doorways, and I didn’t move. My numbers were true, and they and I knew it, and when they’d shouted themselves out, I said, ‘Do you have the money?'” (pp. 9–10)

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/15/spinning-silver-by-naomi-novik/

Oct 15 2019

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle #1) by Rosaria Munda

This was such a surprisingly grounded, even-handed look at revolution and its toll, emotional and material, on the survivors. While very much a cross between the Harry Potter and Red Rising books — except with dragons instead of magic or advanced technology — it felt at its heart closer akin to Jo Walton’s The Just City, another story of radical experiment in government that threatens to go horribly awry. Whereas TJC was a cautionary tale, however, Fireborne is an epic in the heroic mold, eventually becoming as lyrical and deeply moving as the classical poetry it “quotes”, inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid (also, the made-up poetry was beautiful and appropriate, which already sets Fireborne head and shoulders over most of its peers that try and fail to do the same.)

Told from the points of view of Lee, last surviving son of an aristocratic family murdered in the revolution, and Annie, orphaned daughter of a peasant family murdered because they could not meet their pre-revolutionary lord’s production quota, the story begins as the two have advanced through training to become squadron leaders of dragon riders. They and several others will square off in sanctioned tournaments to see who becomes flight commander and de facto heir to Atreus, the revolutionary leader who betrayed his patrician roots to lead the uprising. But not all of the previous regime were exterminated: some survived even as Lee did, and are plotting their vengeance in exile.

Lee and Annie are best friends but have a complicated relationship burdened by rivalry and secrets. I liked that the emotions were never pat, and especially liked how the friendship between Annie and Crissa worked out. To be honest, I thought the beginning of this book rather shaky, but around the time that Cor yells at Lee that Crissa doesn’t deserve to be a consolation prize, I was all in (even tho I maybe envisioned Crissa as Hailey Bieber from then on out, lol.) There are parts I wish had worked out differently, but what did happen worked in service to the story being told, one less of dragons and their heroic riders — tho that was engrossing too — and more of the real costs of regime change and war.

Rosaria Munda doesn’t make the easy choices when it comes to her narrative, which gives us readers a far richer experience than works by authors who go for tidy conclusions. Fireborne is meaningful social commentary in the guise of fantasy fiction, and I was dead impressed by Ms Munda’s skill at examining particularly the French and Russian revolutions through this lens. I’m very much looking forward to reading more, tho am also so, so happy that this book reads complete on its own. Cliffhangers are all well and good but stories that can stand on their own are just so much more satisfying. Really terrific debut.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/15/fireborne-the-aurelian-cycle-1-by-rosaria-munda/

Oct 13 2019

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

That was wild, if you can ignore how incredibly unlikely the technology for the framing device was. Like, how did they have the personalities of all those other people on file? And what kind of punishment is it to essentially be in a murder mystery party forever? Hannibal Lecter would just solve all the world’s unsolved homicides in a year. Tho I suppose if one subscribes to the idea that most criminals are impatient dumbasses, then this absolutely works. Anyway, it’s weird to me when authors construct meticulous plots but decide to handwave nearly all the tech. I get it, science can be hard, but I feel like this has become more prevalent in recent years as mainstream writers attempt what’s essentially science fiction.

Which isn’t to say that this is a bad book at all: it’s a really good mystery and I’m just the kind of person whose tech background makes me twitch when bad tech stands in counterpoint to good story. Because The 7 1/2 Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle maintains a wonderful internal logic, once you learn to accept or ignore the plot twist near the end that explains how this is all happening. So a man with no memories wakes at the start of an 8 day stretch in which he will inhabit a different body every day. At 11 p.m. each night, Evelyn Hardcastle will die. He must solve her murder or stay doomed to repeat that 8-day cycle forever.

Set in a post-war England at the crumbling estate of Blackheath, this is a twisty Agatha Christie murder mystery with a very cool Quantum Leap bent. That Quantum Leap bent is, in fact, what makes this book truly stand out in a crowded manor house mystery market (tho gosh, I wish the tech made as much sense as QL’s admittedly shaky intertwining of quantum physics and moral philosophy did!) It’s a solid whodunnit with excellent pacing and some really deep thoughts on morality and redemption. I would have liked to see what happened to our hero and Anna next but can understand why Stuart Turton chose to end the novel where and how he did. It’s a thought-provoking novel that relies on technology as its catalyst, tho I rather wish as much thought had been given to the details of that tech as were clearly given to everything else about this finely crafted mystery.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/13/the-7%c2%bd-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastle-by-stuart-turton/

Oct 12 2019

Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse

I really enjoyed about 80% of the book, but towards the end, I kept thinking, wait, that can’t be all. Beyond the completely mystifying headstands in the garret (I get the point of them but could not for the life of me decipher what was actually going on while reading their depiction,) I was annoyed by what short shrift the apprehension of the serial killer earned. There was so much rich, exciting material in the lead up to the solution of this case that for the book to end as abruptly as it did felt odd and unearned, never mind that completely unnecessary letter at the end.

Of that rich, exciting material: Mycroft Holmes is hiding his health issues from his loved ones while also pursuing a personal vendetta against a hated nobleman. During the course of this latter, an acquaintance asks Mycroft for help in locating his abruptly vanished prospective son-in-law. Bingwen Shi is the scion of a noble Chinese family, who happened to be working with a known international arms dealer. Ordinarily, Mycroft would think nothing of assisting, but Bingwen Shi’s intended is Ai Lin, the beautiful, spirited woman he secretly pines for himself.

To further muddle his emotions is the return of his incorrigible younger brother from Cambridge. Sherlock has become obsessed with the so-called Fire Four Eleven serial killer, who seems to choose his victims at random and leave no trace besides a calling card with those three words on it. In fact, no one would even guess that the deaths were anything but natural and unrelated were it not for said calling cards. Mycroft tries to discourage his brother from putting himself in danger but when the next victim proves to be a relation to the queen, he must reluctantly allow them both to get involved.

So this will be the kind of story that aficionados of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s more exotic solutions will enjoy. I’m mostly iffy on those, but think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse did a decent job of grounding their plot devices in reality while still painting with Sir Conan Doyle’s palette. I do think they could have done more with telling us the background of the killer instead of just scattering the various hints over the last few chapters. I don’t think we ever actually find out his name, for example. Not that it matters, in the grand scheme of things, but it seems like an odd oversight.

One thing I did very much enjoy and hope to read more of was the burgeoning friendship between Sherlock and Huan. Huan already feels like a much more useful sidekick than Watson, though the former’s steadying influence is likely far more necessary on a young, rash Sherlock than the good doctor will have to exert some years in the future. It was also really nice to see the dynamic between Sherlock and Mycroft from the latter’s perspective. Sherlock is insufferable, as always, and Mycroft’s concern for him understandably verges into scolding, even as Mycroft’s own personal proclivities begin to calcify. Our authors absolutely shine in the way they hint at the canon they’re writing towards with this series. I didn’t enjoy this installment quite as much as I did Book Two, but I am very much looking forward to reading more.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/12/mycroft-and-sherlock-the-empty-birdcage-by-kareem-abdul-jabbar-anna-waterhouse/

Oct 09 2019

Always North by Vicki Jarrett

I went into this thinking it would be a bit like Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, partly due to the cover, but also due to the prospect of a young woman going on a dangerous expedition into the unknown, and the resulting ecological devastation she witnesses firsthand. But that’s about where the similarities end. Izzy is a restless young woman with a middling sense of morality who rationalizes illegally surveying the protected Arctic wilderness for her corporate bosses with the thought that someone else would do it if she didn’t. She embarks on the Polar Horizon with a crew that includes wary Captain Bjornsen, sexy second officer Jules, her partner in tech and occasionally bed Grant, and the irritating pencil pusher Max, sent by corporate to breathe down everyone’s necks about profitability.

As they head further and further north through the Arctic wastes, their path seems to mirror that of a polar bear that appears to be much older than it should be. The polar bear can’t possibly be tracking them… could it? As the intensity of near-endless daylight begins to take its toll on Izzy, the Proteus programming she and Grant have set up for the expedition begins to malfunction, setting off a chain reaction of events that will send a bloodstained Polar Horizon racing for the safety of southern waters.

Years later, Izzy is barely ekeing out a living in a world devastated by global warming when Grant shows up, offering her a job. Out of desperation, Izzy accepts. And then things get weird.

Always North is a fascinatingly constructed novel that deals with environmental collapse in a way reminiscent of J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, but with an audacious literary technique that I’m hard pressed to find comparisons to (tho this may speak to my idiosyncratic reading habits that gravitate more towards story than art.) Vicki Jarrett does with her narrative what figure skaters do with ice, cutting graceful, nearly symmetrical loops in their media for an effortless beauty that belies the strength behind it. Much like I felt with the afore-mentioned Annihilation, this is a book that grows lovelier in the remembering, tho for very different reasons. The ending of Always North is both unsettling and beautiful, incomplete yet strangely perfect. I want to know more, but any more writing would ruin the plot’s delicate balance. I will say that this book hearkened back, for me, to New Wave science fiction of the 1960s & 70s, exploring climate change and the permeable nature of memory with a stylistic boldness you don’t often find in today’s market. Ms Jarrett is truly one to watch.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/09/always-north-by-vicki-jarrett/

Oct 08 2019

Firefly – The Big Damn Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel (Review Part III)

Welcome to Part 3 of our 4-part series! You can check out part 1 here and part 2 here.

So this week we’re going to take a look at Wash’s Wife Soup, a delightfully hearty vegetable soup that Zoe makes for him as a special treat. The picture in the cookbook had me absolutely salivating, as does most of Chelsea Monroe-Cassel’s food photography: to add to her talents as a cookbook author, she’s also a terrific food photographer. I’ve stated before that this is an absolutely gorgeous volume, in large part due to her photos, which are both creative and evocative. This is the kind of volume you could just flip through for the prettiness, though the substantiveness of content makes it more likely you’ll actually want to cook from it rather that just admire it (not that both activities don’t have their own utility.)

Unfortunately, this leads to the only thing I didn’t care for with this book, something that no one in the publishing business can help in this present age. Since Firefly and Serenity were filmed long before our present era of photography standards, the contrast between the film/series stills and Ms Monroe-Cassel’s food and atmosphere photography is marked. While you could almost reach in and touch some of the food (the roast duck, in particular, glistens with deliciousness,) a lot of the show photos look like you’re viewing them from a turn-of-the-century TV. Gosh, I remember re-watching Serenity several months back and being struck by the lack of HD — ironic because it was one of the first movies, if not THE first, to embrace digital standards. But that’s a very tiny criticism of aesthetics far beyond the control of the people who came up with this otherwise delightful and wholly rewarding cookbook.

Now let’s look at one of the Recipes For Shipboard Living (lightly edited for format):

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Wash’s Wife Soup

1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise
1 potato, cubed
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup peas
3 Tbsp heavy cream
Zaatar, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss all the vegetables (except the peas) and garlic cloves with olive oil and spread out on the baking sheet. Roast for around 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft but not too browned.

Add the broth, miso, and rice vinegar to a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until the miso is dissolved. Add in the roasted vegetables and cook for another minute or so. Add the peas, cook for a further minute, then puree everything in an upright blender or with an immersion blender. Immediately pour into serving bowls, garnish with cream and zaatar, and serve.

It’s great with some crusty garlic bread.
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I used frozen peas with this recipe tho I image you could use canned at a pinch, since the general mushiness of the latter won’t work against them here. I also used all of the leek, feeling it rather silly to toss the perfectly edible tops. The biggest surprise for me with this dish is that I didn’t need to add salt or pepper to it: it’s perfectly seasoned as is. The zaatar is definitely a nice touch, tho, and if you need a little more kick, adding more of that to your soup will definitely satisfy. Vegans can skip the heavy cream part, but even a confirmed omnivore like myself finds this vegetarian soup to be extremely craveable. Gosh, even my kids liked it and they never like anything I cook (insert crying emoji here.)

Next week, we close up the series with a recipe and food philosophy near and dear to my heart. Do join me!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/08/firefly-the-big-damn-cookbook-by-chelsea-monroe-cassel-review-part-iii/