September 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Hippocras was a spiced wine drink consumed frequently in Stuart-era England. Spiced wines aren’t so common today, but in, you know, days of yore and stuff, spiced wines were considered both delicious and medicinal. Alcohol on the whole was more widely consumed on a daily basis simply because water supplies were often impure and water had no nutritive value, and so people added interest to their daily alcoholic drinks by adding other ingredients. Ale could be combined with apple pulp, sweetening agents, and spices to make a popular beverage called lamb’s wool, and sugar and spice were added to wine to make hippocras (you can tell it was supposed to be healthy due to the name referencing Hippocrates).

To kick off VeganMoFo I am kind of cheating– this recipe was already vegan, after all– but hey, it is cool to make things from the past. Here’s the recipe I used (pared down, since I didn’t want a gallon of this stuff), from Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife, published in 1615:

To make hippocras: Take a gallon of claret of white wine, and put therein four ounces of ginger, an ounce and a half of nutmegs, of cloves one quarter, of sugar four pound; let all this stand together in a pot at least twelve hours, then take it, and put it into a clean bag made for the purpose, so that the wine may come with good leisure from the spices.

OK. Well, thankfully, my trusty book Life in Stuart England did the math on pairing down this recipe to be more in line with what would go into one bottle of wine. Here’s my lineup:

hippocras prep

Sugar, wine verified vegan by Barnivore, mortar and pestle for grinding cloves, nutmegs to be ground by an oh-so-Stuart-era microplane grater (not pictured) ginger on the cutting board, and a big old glass jar (in lieu of a “pot”). I prepped everything and then let it sit for twelve hours, then strained it with a mesh strainer covered with a clean napkin, in lieu of a “bag made for the purpose” or whatever.


I asked my friends (pictured here, clockwise: my friend Raechel, my husband John, Raech’s husband Jesse) to be taste testers and tell me if they had an ailment that might be cured by this medicine we were drinking.

about to drink

Raechel said she had allergies, John has a bad back, and Jesse claims to suffer from not enough eyelashes, or possibly insanity. My brave patients try their medicine:


Mmm! Ambivalent faces all around. The taste was described as “alcoholic Kool-Aid” and “huh.” Universally we decided it would be better hot, but if I’m making hot spiced wine I’d rather channel my efforts into making Smoking Bishop, a vastly superior beverage all around. None of my patients seemed to think the hippocras cured their ailments, but they did seem to think it was highly effective at getting them drunk, especially when paired with gin and tonics in Raech’s case, beer in Jesse’s, and absinthe in John’s. So maybe they weren’t the most reliable test subjects. Oh well! It was an experiment, fun to make, and easily disposed of down the drain where it belonged. Take that, Stuart-Era England!

And, if you are a vegan blogger is is a fact universally acknowledged that you must include pictures of your animals looking cute, here, for your edification, are my beasts:

Tubby Mc Mungus aka Telemachos aka Lemmy:

tubby mc mungus

Me: What do you have to say about your new internet stardom, Lemmy? Will you be the next Maru?

Lemmy: Pie?

And my amazing, spoiled and beloved friend of eleven years, Penelope aka The Pod:

the pod

Me: Penelope, what do YOU think about internet stardom?

The Pod: zzzzzzzz

Well! Cats. And hippocras. Wish me better luck on my next experiment: Pickles!


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what vegans don’t eat

September 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm (vegan living) ()

I’m kicking of VeganMoFo tonight at 12:00 AM EST, but as a preemptive VeganMoFo post, I’m going to make a list of things vegans don’t eat. Here we go:


Fish (obvs, but hey, I needed the “fish aren’t animals” thing spelled out for me when I was a “vegetarian”)


Milk Products, e.g. Cheese, Butter, Whey


Anything else that came from an animal

Why the PSA? Because today, being hard-up for lunch, I went into my local Great Harvest Bread Company thinking I would get a roll or a loaf of bread of something. I asked what was vegan (“I can never remember what that means!” chirped the girl behind the counter, to which I answered “milk, eggs, honey, cheese, butter. . . you know”) and was told the jalapeno cornbread was safe. Would I like a sample? I would. It was tasty, I bought the bread, went to work.

It did taste creamy, though, so just for my own peace of mind I checked on their website. Hmm, it contains cholesterol. Hmm, it. . . it contains milk. I went back, returned the bread, but the person to whom I talked about it didn’t really seem to care, but at least gave me my money back.

I’m not mad (I would be if I had an allergy, certainly!), but I am mildly annoyed because, really, it’s not that hard to answer questions correctly, especially when you have the list in front of you (she was checking a franchise reference at the time). I will say that I do get really irritated when people act all befuddled when I say “animal products” as if it is a really difficult concept like particle physics, especially when I say, as I always do, “no animal products, you know, like meat, eggs, milk, butter.” I am spelling it out for you.

Anyways! Tonight tune in for POST NUMBER ONE of VEGANMOFO III.

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not the bad, or the ugly, but the. . .

September 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm (thinking)

I have a penchant for the terrible. It’s an aspect of my personality that baffles me, but even though I should probably be alarmed by things like, for example, the fact that I’ve read Eragon more than once, I choose to believe it is something of a talent to be able to consume the massive quantities of just downright stinky movies, writing, art, etc. that I do on a nearly daily basis.

Recently, however, I’ve decided to combat my addition to the awful by making an effort to seek out genuinely good artistic material. This should not be dismissed as a project just because I rented Van Helsing last night. . . it’s two steps forward, one step back with me about just about everything. Anyways, a while ago I read Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy and as I did, it provoked a sense of wonder and excitement, not just because of the gorgeous world he built or the compelling characters, but because I was taking the time to read something new, different, and genuinely worthwhile for pleasure, and I couldn’t remember the last time I did that.

I felt the same sense of warmth and beauty reading this piece of prettiness over at Fantasy Magazine. Caroline Yoachim’s story “Tending the Mori Birds” is moving, interesting, well-paced, and builds a beautiful and convincing fantasy world without spending an overly-long amount of time world-building, which is something I struggle with in my own writing and so admire greatly when I see it done right.

In other news: I will be making my first VeganMoFo post at 12:01 Wednesday night/Thursday morning!

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ugh ugh ugh

September 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm (this and that)

Today I was talking to my parents on my phone, outside my usual coffee shop, and noticed that someone tied up and left a really rough-looking German Shepherd puppy outside. I had seen the dog before ,looking scraggly and in need of a bath, but when I really looked at him today I noticed he had bald patches on his skin that he was gnawing at, and what appeared to be maggots nesting in his fur and skin. His tail was also chewed down and horrifying. Two kids were playing with him, rubbing his fur as they ate a croissant, which was just. . . ugh. Bleh. Ugh. The area around his bottom was the worst, matted and filled with the things that were maybe maggots, and he kept gnawing at the area and his scrotum as if it itched terribly. So yeah, he wasn’t fixed, either, so that’s great. Probably because he’s a “purebred” dog. Bleh. Ugh.

So I called Animal Control. I wouldn’t have if it had been the first time I saw the dog tied up and looking terrible, but the repeat viewing convinced me it was a good idea. Fortunately the AC officer showed up before the “caretakers” of this creature came out, and the officer seemed really unhappy about the dog’s condition (as well as the fact that the poor thing had just been left outside with no water, tied to a fence).

So we talked about the pup for a minute, but  just as I was pointing to the patches on his skin that looked maggoty the two kids came out with a woman and seemed really concerned I was standing over the dog with a dude in a uniform. He asked if it was her dog and she said “it’s my husband’s” and looked at me quizzically, at which point I excused myself not wanting a confrontation. I’m glad I did because as I went inside one of the kids ran in screaming “DAD THE POLICE ARE HERE ABOUT YOUR DOG!!!” so I decided discretion was the better part of valor and biked home. My friend Jesse stayed and went outside, pretending to talk on his phone, and said that the officer kept pointing out spots on the dog’s coat and the guy just looked surprised and was acting like he’d never noticed it before. Then I guess the officer wrote the guy a ticket, and the guy took the poor dog in his car and drove away.

Ugh. Poor doggie. The last time I called AC they didn’t want me to stay around and just told me to leave (I was also bleeding and injured but not as a result of the incident, long story), so I hope I did the right thing. I hope the dog gets the help he needs. He’s such a cute pup, and had just sad eyes. I had no idea the kids were at all related to the dog, he didn’t seem to greet them with friendliness or interest when they tried to play with them– just listlessly sat or laid down, while they pulled on his leash to try to make him do stuff.

I hope he doesn’t get abandoned. I hope the guy realizes he’s not taking care of the pup and takes him to a shelter where he can find a good home. I know I wanted to take him home. Bleh. Ugh. Bleh.

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the telegraph tells it how it is

September 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm (this and that)

The last time I was all flippant and stuff about a famous author’s writing I got in a wee bit of trouble (Hello Mr. Gaiman! I’m disappointed you won’t be at World Fantasy Con, according to your blog, as I wanted to get your autograph and introduce myself as “that blogger who called you a misogynistic butthole”), but I can’t pass up posting this article from the Telegraph calling out Dan Browne for murdering English prose.

Full disclosure: I read The Da Vinci Code. I read it for one reason, which was that it came out when I was majoring in Art History at Rollins, and roughly 463 people (including my parents) asked me if I had read it, and when I said no, each and every one would proceed to tell me all about Leonardo Da Vinci and how he was (spoilers, I guess) really a cultist who believed Jesus put a baby in Mary and painted her into The Last Supper and blah blah blah. At some point I realized it would take less time for me to just read the damn book and tell people “Yes, I didn’t care for it” so I did. It was horrible. I know it’s old news to report on just how awful The Da Vinci Code is (it is so, so bad), but now that Dan Browne has released OMG MASONS IN WASHINGTON D.C.! or whatever the title of his latest book actually is, it’s open season again on his terrible, terrible writing, and justifiably so.

I actually have more of a problem with the plotting in The Da Vinci Code than anything else (characters are so implausibly motivated I think I laughed out loud at their actions more than once) but Browne’s actual word-smithery is just as noxious. Even worse– somehow– than the part of The Da Vinci Code when Plucky French Orphan Lady (who will remain nameless because I don’t feel like Wiki-ing her name) admits that she broke with her dead curator grandfather just because she walked in on his kinky sex club (Really? I would just be like “Ew! Lock the door please Gramps! Can I borrow that mask for the Halloween party next week?” but I am not. . . French? Maybe?) is this actual line from the actual book, unadulterated by cowed editors who I assume saw this and just said “fuck it, it’s Dan Browne, it will sell a gajillion copies because it is about Jesus having sex and conspiracies”:

“The Knights Templar were warriors,” Teabing reminded, the sound of his aluminum crutches echoing in this reverberant space.

The Telegraph, because they are British, follow up this monstrosity by reminding us that “Remind” is a transitive verb – you need to remind someone of something. You can’t just remind. And if the crutches echo, we know the space is reverberant.

Thank you.

See that, and 19 other pieces of some of the worst writing in the English language here.

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September 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm (this and that, writing) ()

Last week I saw this over at Fantasy Magazine:

We are looking for readers interested in dedicating 5-10 hours a month to reading Fantasy Magazine slush. We will be glad to train you in considerations of online publishing and editing. Position is unpaid but we would be glad to write letters of recommendation or whatever’s needed for internship status and buy you drinks at conventions.

So I applied. Why not, right? I like drinks, I’m going to World Fantasy Con, and I’m pretty awesome at quickly reading a high volume of stuff carefully and critically after three years of grad school at FSU, right?

So today I woke up to find a very exciting email in my inbox. The first line read:

Everyone: If you’ve gotten this email, then you’ve been accepted to slush for Fantasy Magazine. Congratulations!


Yes! Seriously! I guess my seven semesters of heartlessly (and for the most part thanklessly) grading seemingly-endless piles of student papers has finally paid off! This is a better gig by far because instead of stacks of essays on Descartes or Antigone I get to read speculative fiction which, to be honest, applies much more directly to my sensibilities. Also as an experienced RPer I will be able to spot a transliterated Dungeons and Dragons campaign from, like, a mile away.

So awesome. I’m very enthusiastic about this, and feel very honored they are taking a chance on me.

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veganmofo III

September 22, 2009 at 12:12 pm (vegan living) ()


I’ve never done VeganMoFo before, so I’m super excited to announce that I will be participating this year! For those of you who actually read my blog but don’t know what VeganMoFo is (out of my three, possibly four readers that would be, what, zero?) it is the vegan version of NaNoWriMo, but instead of slamming out a heap of prose that privileges “enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft” and “quantity over quality” (their words, not mine), I’ll be blogging relentlessly about wholesome deliciousness and compassion over. . . well, I do that a bunch anyway, so it’s not really over anything. I’ll just be doing more of it.

This will be a challenge for me, since I am currently writing full-time. as much as I can, as often as I can. Still, I’m going to attempt to meet the goal of blogging five days a week for the four weeks of October (while not letting it impact the amount of time I’m putting into this novel) so anyone who visits often can look forward to a bunch of entries about veganism instead of Teabaggers or Juggalos (Juggaloes? What is the plural of Juggalo?) or whatever else I usually blog about.

One more thing: Although I know I won’t have time to do a theme of “Recipes from the Renaissance” (though I would really like to) I will be doing a feature I’ll be calling something stupid like “Time Warp Tuesday” or something, where I veganize a recipe or two from the Renaissance in general, but more specifically, Stuart England. I think the first will be a “receipt” for pickles that comes from  Hannah Woolley’s The Queen-Like Closet (1675) and a batch of Hippocras, or medicinal spiced wine, from Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife (1615).

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we don’t need no stinking czars!

September 21, 2009 at 9:59 am (this and that)

I’ve been running a special here at Paper Fruit allowing the Teabaggers/Right Wingers to voice their own opinions without my commentary. For our third installment. . .

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bewilderment part two

September 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm (this and that)

Again, any commentary I might have could only ever be a footnote to how the Teabaggers voluntarily represent themselves.

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i. . . i don’t. . .

September 14, 2009 at 10:59 am (this and that)

I could blog about a lot of things today. I could blog about my frustration with the rhetoric used by the radical right to polarize discussion in this nation. I could blog about Joe Wilson’s rudeness. I could blog about the fear-mongering and hysteria of said radical right. I could blog about how I’m still annoyed by the whole Barack Obama speech hullaballoo. But instead, I think I will sit back and let this group of people speak for themselves. Nothing I could write could be better or more telling than seeing their opinions, plainly stated in their own language. So I’m going to give them a platform to talk about themselves and their viewpoints. Lets see what they have to say:

Click on the slideshow icon on the right.

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