A Loofah For Dasha #vegan #chinchilla

NO, I’m not suggesting vegans can eat chinchillas! Whaddayou, CRAZY?

Our #4 Daughter, the amazing Sara Marian, has a chinchilla named Dasha, and bought her a box of goodies, including a loofah to chew on. So I decided to dig out this column I wrote for the World Wide Recipes ezine about loofahs as actual people food.


Image from Flickr by adar.que.

Yes, I’m talking about the scrubber you use in the bath. Some may know and some may not: the loofah is a vegetable.

They probably originated in the Nile Valley, where they were grown as food. I planted some, one year. They grow on vine-like plants. The fruits look something like zucchini, long, thin and green, and are said to have a flavor similar to zucchini.

Although I have a recipe for loofah and eggplant ratatouille, I didn’t eat my loofahs. Like most people who grow them, I let them mature. Then I skinned them, shook out the seeds, and let the loofahs dry into bath scrubbers. How cool is that?

Loofah and Eggplant Ratatouille

1 large or 2 medium eggplants
1 pound young loofahs
1 large red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
8 ounces cherry tomatoes
8 ounces shallots, peeled
2 tsp ground coriander
4 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few cilantro leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the eggplant into thick chunks and sprinkle with salt. Set aside in a colander for 45 minutes, then rinse well under cold running water and pat dry. Preheat oven to 425 F Slice the loofahs into 3/4-inch pieces. Place eggplant, loofah, pepper, tomatoes and shallots in roasting pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with ground coriander and olive oil. Scatter the chopped garlic and cilantro leaves on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the loofah is golden brown and peppers are beginning to char.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character eats something considered inedible by someone else. Not blood, Jane. And no zombies need apply.


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An Evil Influence

That would be #4 Daughter, the amazing Sara Marian. She called and said she had this addictive phone game she was playing.

ME: Yeah, yeah. I don’t need another addictive game.

SARA: You have this koi pond, and they swim around and you guide them to eat insects. But don’t let them swim into the pink leaves, because that slows them down.

ME: *thinks: sounds boring*

SARA: It sounds boring, but it’s relaxing AND fun! After they eat enough of a combination of insects, they level up, and you can expand the pond and they get different insects to eat.

ME: huh

SARA: And other koi appear and the two koi get a circle around them, and if they stay in the circle long enough, they have an egg and it hatches into another koi! All different patterns of them!

ME: I like koi.

SARA: After they level up far enough, they turn into dragons!

ME: I’m in.

So now I’m SO addicted! I don’t think it’ll replace Minecraft any time soon, but, yes, it’s addictive. #4 Daughter is right: it’s calming and exciting at the same time.

Oh, the name? Zen Koi. Get it from your friendly neighborhood smartphone app store. That is all.

I’m posting at Fatal Foodies today about shoots. Sounds about right.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about ornamental fish.



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My New Imaginary Literary Boyfriend THE MARVELS #BookReview

You think it’s Marcus, don’t you? You think Marcus Marvel is my new imaginary literary boyfriend. But you’re wrong. THE ENTIRE BOOK is my new imaginary literary boyfriend! The book is THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick.

People always rag on Dickens because he used coincidence a lot in his novels. That’s so unfair. Because why? Because coincidence happens, like, ALL the TIME in real life.

For instance:

I’m in a couple of email lists with Leila Taylor, the awsomesauce site-mama of Buried Under Books. When somebody posts a review to her site, she informs members of the email lists. I usually just scan them, because, let’s be frank: I already have seventeen bazillion books I haven’t read yet. This one, though, grabbed me. I’m pretty sure it was the cover. No, I tell a lie: it was the enthusiasm of jv poore, the reviewer.

I immediately hopped over to Amazon’s site and ordered the book. It arrived, and it’s MASSIVE. It’s also beautiful! Looka this book!MARVELSThe front cover is actually dark blue, though I could make it look either bright blue or black in my photo. Black is closer. The picture on the cover is shiny gold, and the edges of the pages are gold. The drawing on the spine and back typifies the high quality of those inside.

This is one of those books that make actual sense of the statement, “I like real books. I like to hold them in my hands.” Usually, I’m like, “How do you hold your Kindle, then, with your feet?” This book is a pleasure to hold, and a pleasure to look at, to turn and examine from all sides and angles.

The book, not counting the afterword, is about 650 pages. I say “about,” because over half of that is full-page or double-page illustrations by the author, also a story, or part of the same story, or ….

The afterword explains the odd experience I had while reading the text portion of the novel. It also has a quote by Wim Wenders, my imaginary directorial boyfriend.

SO ANYWAY, I gobbled up the first part of the book, beautiful drawings that lead you through the story of a shipwreck into a multi-generational celebration of family that branches and blossoms through acceptance of parental responsibility, of one’s own blood kin or of others’ children.

The text begins with a parallel story, of a boy planning to foist himself onto his unknown uncle — assuming he can find him. More teasing parallels winkle in, but the odd experience I had related to something else.

As the story progressed, I kept having the feeling I had been in this or that setting before, that I had seen this or that place, that I knew things before I was told them.

Sure enough, the afterword confirmed one of my bits of recognition. The uncle’s house is inspired by Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields, London, England, which was one of my Friday Recommends.

There was more, though, and I had to dig it out of my poor old brain. Another of my recommends, British artist Liam O’Farrell, has done a series of drawings and paintings of Spitalfields, including one of Spitalfields Market, which also appears in THE MARVELS. (If you want to learn more about Spitalfields, I highly recommend Spitalfields Life, written by “the gentle author”).

Who would believe such a double coincidence? Yet true.

Read this book. Lissen: READ THIS BOOK!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: My favorite exercise is to take a headline from the front page of the paper and one from deep inside the paper and make them part of the same story. Or you could take two lines from two totally different sorts of books and do the same thing.


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