Let’s Lunch: The Perfect Breakfast

Posted in Manna on October 11th, 2013 by Annabelle – 5 Comments
DSCN1301

Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Welcome to the October round of Let’s Lunch!  This month’s theme is guilty pleasures.  Since around here are in the painfully, painfully brief season when fresh figs are available, I thought I’d share one of my favorite indulgences: starting the day with an opulent breakfast of fresh figs and ricotta.

I love a fancy breakfast.  Let’s be honest: despite the fact that nutritionists are constantly telling us that it’s important to eat breakfast, it’s hard to make time to actually have a real meal at that hour.  Life gets in the way.  So there’s something especially indulgent-feeling about sitting down with a real treat instead of a bowl of cereal or a breakfast bar.

I do try to eat something for breakfast.  I also try not to start my day with a big bowl of full-fat cheese.  But hey, fresh figs are worth it, don’t you think?

Figs and Ricotta with Honey

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
A pinch of salt
2-3 fresh figs
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey (I used orange blossom)
Fresh mint or rosemary, finely chopped

Stir a pinch of salt into the ricotta and place in a bowl.  Quarter the figs and arrange them on top of the ricotta.  Give a few grinds of pepper on top, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with your herb of choice.  If you use rosemary, as I did, be sparing and make sure to give the leaves a light chopping first.  Mint you can use more freely.

Still hungry?  Check out the other offerings on Twitter, hashtag #LetsLunch, or below:

The Breakfast Club at Sandwich Surprise.
Shoulder Pork and Ham deconstructed at Insatiable Munchies.
Nutella Cookies at The Little Good Ride.
Halayang Ube at Asian in America.
Mars Bar Slice at Monday Morning Cooking Club.
Japanese Crisp Choco Bites at A Tiger in the Kitchen.
Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy at Dreaming of Pots and Pans.
Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Raspberries and Lemon-Scented Cream at Spicebox Travels.

Let’s Lunch: Chocolate Pie

Posted in Manna on September 13th, 2013 by Annabelle – 16 Comments

Chocolate Pie

It’s time for this month’s Let’s Lunch round!  This month’s theme is pie.  You might say that this is the perfect time of year for an apple pie recipe, headed as we are here in the Northeast straight into apple-picking season.  I have to admit, though, I never think of fruit pies when someone says “pie”; my mind immediately goes to pecan, buttermilk, fudge, and all the other delicious, nutritionally irredeemable confections of my youth.  That being so, I thought I’d bring you a straightforward favorite my grandmother used to make: chocolate pie.  This is a simple recipe — so simple it might well have come off a can label sixty years ago — but I promise, it’s 100% delicious.  There’s a reason my family keeps coming back to it decade after decade.

read more »

The Golden Queen

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on September 2nd, 2013 by Annabelle – 14 Comments

The queen sat by the fire and hummed softly to her son, rocking his cradle softly.  The king, delighted by a boy, had yet disapproved of her choice.  A ridiculous name, he’d said.  Not fit for the heir to a kingdom.

And yet she’d had her way.  She always did, now.  Her father had sold her, and the king had locked her in a room full of straw and threatened to kill her, but that was over, all over.  She was the queen who had spun straw into gold, and if there had been another in that tower room, if there had been promises made, that had been before.  She was the golden queen and could do no wrong.

They burst into the room, an angry swarm of king and advisors and guards, and the imp.  The imp stood alone with uncanny grace, skin dusky, eyes only for her.  He raised his hand, and a hush fell, the kingdom’s great men choked to silence on their own choler.

“It is the third day, and your last chance.”  His voice was like smoke and forest honey.  “Can you guess my name?”

She met his eyes for a long moment, the months of waiting and knowing and powerlessness all boiling to the surface, plain on both their faces.  Then she smiled, and reached down a hand to touch her sleeping son.  “Rumleskaft.”  The king reared back as if bitten.  She could see the imp smiling out of the corner of her eye.

“You have me.”  He made a half bow.  “What is your wish?”  His golden eyes were knowing.

She gathered up the baby in her arms.  He opened his eyes sleepily, and a flash of gold showed through the brown before he gurgled happily and closed his eyes again.  “I wish to leave this place.”

A deep bow, then she was in his arms.  “As you desire.”  Rumleskaft touched the baby’s cheek, then wrapped the darkness around them and swept them silently away.

 

This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge called for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word GRACE (noun):

For more fairy tale retellings, click on the Fairy Tale category on the sidebar or see the full list on the Fiction page.  Thanks for reading!

Bluebeard

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on August 22nd, 2013 by Annabelle – 5 Comments

Ailea stared at the door.  She knew about his vanished wives when they married, but his smile had been so sweet.  She’d trusted him and been happy.  He’d asked her to leave that one room alone; she’d agreed.

But — there was a smell coming from it.  An acrid, organic smell drifting faintly into the hallway.  And there was something seeping under the door, a thick red-black substance she was afraid to touch.  She couldn’t help wondering — what had happened to them, anyway?

She put the key in the lock and turned.

 

When he found her, hours later, she was still flat on her back.  There was a heart-shaped bruise on her forehead like a brand where an ornamental paperweight had hit her on the way down.

“Your mother insisted I take it all.”  He was apologetic.  “I would have trashed it, except I think her best friend is a witch, and she had a manic look at the wedding.  I’m not sure it’s safe.”  He started pulling crocheted blankets and wobbly hand-thrown urns off the pile.  “It’s the jams that get me.  At least, I think they’re jams.”

Her ankle was sticky with the horrifying ooze that turned out to have come from an overturned jar.  “Let’s not find out,” she croaked.

He made a devoutly affirmative noise and dug.  The stench was terrible.  She recognized it, now — her mother’s attempt at making handbags from home-tanned leather.  She’d tried to forget that phase.

“I’m not sure this is enough room.  We could get rid of the stuff Lakshmi left when she ran off to Ishendi.  She seems to be enjoying being a belly-dancer too much to bother sending for it.”

She sat up, finally.  “It’s fine.  We’ll shove it all back in and brick it up.”

He gave her that sweet, unassuming smile.  “Whatever you like.”

She reached out one dusty hand to touch his cheek, caress the ridiculous beard.  “I love you.”

His face was like the sunrise.  “I love you too.”

 

This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge called for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word BRAND (noun):

3a (1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership 
     (2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark
b (1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron 

     (2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma <the brand of poverty>

So here’s another reimagined fairy tale for you.  (For the full list, click on the Fairy Tale category on the sidebar or check the Fiction page.)  Thanks for reading! 

The Pea

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on August 14th, 2013 by Annabelle – 15 Comments

Evadne stood behind the hulking armoire and stared as the middle-aged queen thrust something under the lowest mattress and tiptoed triumphantly out.  Evadne sighed.  What the hell kind of place was this?  The house was beautiful, a vision of architectural details without and sumptuous within, but if it hadn’t been raining, she would have gone off to sleep in a haystack.

She probably should have known from the way they’d reacted to finding out she was a princess.  The prince, it transpired, was having trouble finding a wife.  Evadne had opinions on why that was, but her attempts to indicate that it was really none of her business had gone completely unnoticed.  Neither of them seemed to grasp the fact that Evadne wouldn’t have taken the man as a gift, much less competed for him.

Evadne dropped down next to the bed and shoved an arm in to fish for whatever the queen had left.  A hard, grainy lump rolled under her fingers, and she pulled it out.  A pea.  “Seriously?”  She dropped her forehead against the preposterous tower of mattresses, where it sank in with a squish.

God, she was glad she was going home.  The weirdness out here never ended.  But her father hadn’t been born a king; he was an old campaigner, and when he’d sent her on this trip, it wasn’t to end up with an heir incapable of dealing with a lumpy mattress.  Just a few more days.  Evadne reached up, yanked the covers off into a nest on the rug, and slept like a log.

“How did you sleep?”  The queen smirked.

“Beautifully!” Evadne said, cheerily shoveling down as much breakfast as she could manage.  “Thanks for the pea, by the way.  Such a practical gift; flowers and food all at once.” She stood up and walked to the door.  “I think I’ll take it with me, if you don’t mind.”

She waved, stepped out into the sun, and smiled.  Dad always did like a garden.

 

This week, a return to my fairy tale retellings as inspired by the gorgeous photos of The Breakers for the Write at the Merge prompt this week.  I also worked in this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge, which called for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the work GRASP (verb):

Thanks for reading!  For more fairy tale retellings, click on Fairy Tales on the sidebar or check out the full list on the Fiction page.  

Let’s Lunch: Farmer’s Market Gazpacho

Posted in Manna on August 9th, 2013 by Annabelle – 6 Comments

DSCN1278

Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch!  This month’s theme is vegetables, in honor of Let’s Lunch-er Joe Yonan‘s brand new cookbook, Eat Your Vegetables.  This is the perfect time of year for a cookbook celebrating produce, as farmer’s markets in this part of the country really hit their stride.  Joe’s cookbook focuses on recipes for those of us who frequently cook for one, and includes handy recommendations for reusing leftover ingredients.  Anyone who’s interested in making the most of their veggies as we head into fall should definitely check it out.

read more »

Soothing the Savage Beast

Posted in Fiction, Tacar on July 22nd, 2013 by Annabelle – 16 Comments

Raicha stood on the terrace and stared at the crocodile.  It was a gift from Kanjire.  Apparently Kanjirians considered ill-tempered predators an appropriate gift for foreign royalty.  Crocodiles were the symbolic guardians of their royal family, fine.  Still.  It was fifteen feet long and had made a spirited attempt to kill the men who had unloaded it; Camilia had been extremely impolite privately about the need to find somewhere to put the damn thing.  It was also, very clearly, a statement about the relative fitness of the ruling families of Kanjire and Tacar.  Tamedijl, who had been Kanjirian royalty before her marriage, had looked smug all day.

read more »

Let’s Lunch: Scallion Pancakes

Posted in Manna on July 12th, 2013 by Annabelle – 15 Comments
If loving salty fried foods is wrong, I don't want to be right.

If loving salty fried foods is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

It’s time for this month’s blog round with Let’s Lunch!  I’m happy to be back after a couple of months of kitchen catastrophes and life crises, and just in time to celebrate the release of The Marijuana Chronicles, the brand new anthology including a short story by Let’s Lunch’s own Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan!

Despite the fact that I went to plenty of parties during college, I managed to never lay eyes or nose on marijuana at any of them, so my experience with munchies is limited entirely to the eternal non-chemical allure of a good French fry.  (I would say that the lack of non-alcoholic recreation was because we were all so law-abiding but I suspect it was largely because we also took ourselves way too seriously.)

I do, however, feel totally confident in recommending scallion pancakes for anyone feeling the urge for a little snack.  Hot out of the pan, they’re crisp, salty, and entirely delicious.  I use Martin Yan’s recipe because a) Martin Yan’s good cheer and enthusiasm for cooking never fail to delight me, and b) it’s a damn good recipe.  I have made these many times for parties, and they always get eaten down to the last crispy triangle.  Always.

read more »

Allure

Posted in Fiction, Tacar on March 21st, 2013 by Annabelle – 3 Comments

Camilia gave a gurgling laugh at the sally and laid a hand on the Lord Magistrate’s shoulder.  She saw him appreciatively following the line of her neck and long bare arm and smiled.  He had known her father too well to be genuinely swayed by her femininity, but she found that very few men actually minded being charmed by the Empress.  She crinkled her eyes at him in parting, and turned away to find the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He was standing on the balcony, the last echoes of sunset on his face.  He was, as ever, slim, tall, and elegantly dressed, the note-perfect performance of a man who had been at court since long before she’d been born.  He had been appointed to his position by her grandfather and had not been young then, but of course that was nothing for the Tevalle.

read more »

Rebirth

Posted in Calere, Fiction on March 19th, 2013 by Annabelle – 10 Comments

He sat on a stump in the village square, leaning on his knees and turning his face up to the sun.  It was finally warm, and he felt a smile blooming.  The interminable northern winter felt like a crushing blow every year, but he could never remember being more grateful for spring.

A delighted shriek pierced the air.  A dark-haired toddler was staggering after a fluttering scrap of yellow just out of her reach, waving her chubby arms and babbling as she went.  She had managed to take off her shoes, he noticed ruefully, and her feet and legs were coated with mud.  He levered himself up and went to the rescue.

read more »