Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Nice, Long Weekend

A nice long weekend. I've been realizing lately that somehow when I worry about being faced with an empty weekend with no plans, things start to come up. I also think I'm beginning to be better about relaxing and going with the flow. Of courses this weekend, I've been proofing pages, which has kept me busy. Found some real errors in a couple of recipes, so am going back over it again, although I'm not quite through the first round.
Yesterday Texas showed its variable weather sides. What had been sunny and in the low 80s on Friday turned bitterly cold and windy Saturday, never out of the thirties. I went to two grocery stores and the hardware and came in and holed up for the day. Today it still qualifies as quite cool but its sunny and a definite improvement.
I spent part of the weekend feeding Christian. Jordan had made plans contingent on his working, and yet he didn't get a shift, so he came and had supper with me--with due warning in the morning so I could fix something he likes. We had chopped sirloin (with a sauce of red wine, beef broth and goat cheese) and salad, with a baked potato for him. We also had a long visit, a tad too much wine, and a thoroughly pleasant evening--I'd lit a fire in the fireplace and served dinner in the dining room instead of the family room since we didn't have to watch Jacob. I sent him home with a bag full of the ingredients for brunch today--and woke up this morning worrying about whether they had unpacked the bag and refrigerated as necessary. They did but confessed they forgot about it in the car until they began discussing what I was going to fix them for brunch today and Christian suddenly bolted for the car.
I fixed a new dish and altered it (no pun) to get around the tomatoes called for in the original recipe but one of the items on Christian's "do not eat" list.
I put three-and-a-quarter cups or water, a cup of corn meal, and a thawed 12 oz. pkg. of corn in a 9x13 dish, stirred it thoroughly, and baked it at 425 for 30 minutes (it came out soft polenta, but might have hardened if we'd let it cool completely). While it baked Jordan chopped a half cup cilantro, crumbled almost two cups of feta, and mixed them. I slit the casings on three bacon-and-onion sausages from Central Market's extensive lineup of homemade sausage--really debated over what flavor--and browned the meat in a skillet, breaking clumps with a wooden spon as it cooked. When it was no longer pink (a point about which Jordan is fanatical) I added some chicken broth and white wine (I had sent what I call a "travel" bottle of chardonnay, one of those little one-serving deals like you get on airplanes, and Jordan chilled it thinking I intended to drink it with brunch; I told her 11 a.m. was a bit early). When the polenta was done, we let it cool a bit, then topped it as evenly as possible with the broken up sausage meat and the feta/cilantro mixture. It was really really good. We had mini-blueberry muffins with it and needed no eggs. Jacob, who loves blueberries, thought there was something "yucky" in the muffins.
Tonight I'm fixing myself a dish that calls for an eggplant salad (made and in the refrigerator) with tuna in olive oil, grape tomatoes and mint. Sounds weird, I know, but then I'm the one who had a bit of egg salad on smoked salmon this morning before I went to brunch--I can't wait until 11 a.m. to eat. And I still have half of my sirloin patty waiting for me--maybe lunch tomorrow.
Someone left a comment on my last blog about whether or not I, as a small press director and owner of a Kindle, think digital reading machines are responsible for a downturn in publishing. Certainly there has been a downturn--a recent AAUP survey revealed something like 6-9% over the first six months of 2008, and that was before things began to go really bad. TCU Press isn't thriving like it did last year, although our sales are respectable. But, no, I don't think it's digital reading devices--someone still has to write the books and someone else publish them (I'm not sure but I don't think you can simply post your own book on Kindle). The thing that worries me about e-publishing is that it is often unvetted. TCU Press manuscripts go through two readers and then scrutiny (and I do mean scrutiny) by an editorial board. Some of the stories and books you see in the web have been read by no one but the author. Yet others come from reputable publishers who have chosen to print in newly developing forms, including e-books and Print to Order or Print on Demand. I think pubishing is changing at a rate that's almost scary, just because technology is changing that fast--but I believe there will always be hard copy books. People like to feel, hold, smell and read a real book--in spite of my Kindle, I'm doing that now, one called The Hearse You Came In On by Tim Cockey. It's a used book I got for a song at Booked for Murder in Houston, but the title sounded familiar and I thought I'd explore it. Nope, I think publishing is alive and well, maybe even a little bit "more well" than much of the economy, because one of the things I keep hearing is that in tough times, when they can't afford other entertainment, people stay home and read books.
My daughter, Megan, got a Kindle for Christmas and reports she loves it. She's rereading Pillars of the Earth and says the Kindle is so much easier to read than the big thick book. I find I like it because if I'm out of reading material, I can order a new book with a click and have it in minutes. My friend Mary Lu also got a Kindle for Christmas, and I'll have to ask how she's doing with it. Megan and Mary Lu both read in bed at night, something I simply can't do, so it may be especially great there.

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