Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Swamplandia! inspired Red Seth Bites with Swamp-Ass Dip

Swamplandia! inspired snacks:
Red Seth Bites and Swamp Ass Dip
I don't think it is a stretch to say that Swamplandia! is probably the best all-around thing I will read in 2013.  I mean...can you fault me?  Gorgeous language, stunning writing, storytelling that distracts from the elevated writing, swamps, likeable kids facing realistic challenges they don't understand, coming of age...yeah, Karen Russell got me hook, line, sinker.  Yes, I've spent some time in South Florida, been to the Everglades, and I've seen gator wrestling live (let's just be clear: I have no desire to partake, but gator does sure taste good!); this book made those memories come alive again like I was experiencing them for the first time.

PopTart, werk that grill!
I was inspired to cook, naturally.  Also naturally, I thought about what we feed gators in captivity: chicken.  YUM.  There was also the visual inspiration July 2013 cover of Bon Appetit, which just kind of looked at me as I ripped through Swamplandia!, tempting me to take a bite.  The resulting skewers, which I'm calling Red Seth Bites, were good enough that my mother requested that I make them again, a week later, for my father's birthday.   By lucky coincidence, the marinade was initially way spicier than I had intended for my sissy family (it wound up not being too spicy at all when cooked, so up the pepper and hot sauce if you like a slow burn), so I whipped up a yogurt based dip to cool things down.  What resulted was so good I may or may not have taken to eating it with a spoon...and then used it again with my leftovers the next day.  I used about a pound of chicken with my marinade, but I suspect you could use any protein you'd like.  Please, please: someone use gator and tell me all about it.

Reth Seth Snacks, other delicious things on the grill.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Swamplandia, by Karen Russell: Even alligator wrestlers grow up

Karen Russell
Vintage Books: New York, 2011
ISBN: 9780307276681

The indomitable Bigtree family has owned and operated Swamplandia!, an alligator wrestling amusement park in the Everglades for decades.  But changes come, as they must, when Hillola Bigtree, matriarch of the current tribe, dies suddenly of cancer, leaving her husband the Chief and their three teenage children, Kiwi, Osceola and Ava to continue running the fading park.  Kiwi, self-proclaimed genius, runs away to the mainland to work for the rival amusement park, ostensibly in the hopes of paying down the mounting debts of Swamplandia!, while Ossie becomes obsessed with the spirit world, convinced she can commune with her ghostly boyfriends.  Chief Bigtree heads to the mainland for an extended business trip leaving Ava and Ossie to run things in his absence.  Meanwhile, Ava, the baby of the family, struggles to accept her mothers death and to understand Ossie.  When Ossie runs away to elope with the ghostly Dredgeman, Ava sets out on a journey to save her that will challenge them all.  Part coming of age tale and part quest, to say this work sparkles with gorgeous descriptive language and crushes you with the sadness of a childhood ending is a vast understatement of Russell's considerable talent as an author.  A Pulitzer Prize finalist, the work is strongly recommended for older high school aged teens and adults for content, complexity in language, and some adult themes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tidbits (of cheese and other literary goodness)

I'm sorry, two loyal readers, one of whom I'm pretty sure is a spambot! I've been super busy - ALA, work, other job, other things...but in good news, I do have some recipes and reviews soon as I get the chance to write them.  I have, however, been hoarding up way, way, old news and things.  You've probably already seen them, but I don't care!  Enjoy them or not; as Captain Planet would say, the power is yours!

  •  This artists description says it all ("art inspired by and made from books"), but her method of delivery - finger prints - is really cool!  
  • Just because I loved it so much when I came upon it, I'm going to share the best, loveliest watercolor prints that would be great in a kitchen.  Speaking of making a librarian very happy, I happen to know a librarian who loves the olive oil print...

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