Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Running Man by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

Guten Tag Beardies!

Today I will be spotlighting The Running Man by Stephen King, originally published under the nom de plume of Richard Bachman. A little bit of science fiction, some social commentary, and lots of high octane action and thrills are delivered in this excellent piece of work. This is my favourite Stephen King novel, and I am delighted to share it with you all today.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sir Walter Jean-Baptiste de Rochefort's Cassoulet Recipe

Recipe by Sir Walter Jean-Baptiste de Rochefort

The preparation of a cassoulet is, as with the
preparing of any great meal, foremost an act of love.”
-Sir Walter de Rochefort

If we consider the Cassoulet as consisting of five layers which melt together under a golden crust, we can see at once that the one who cooks a Cassoulet cooks five dishes which can be served with convenience as a single course meal. But do not forget that while you may serve the final dish in one container, you must first prepare the five parts.

They are as follows:

Firstly, The Bean, cooked with bacon, later separated from bacon.
Secondly, The Pork, roasted to your taste.
Thirdly, The Lamb, cooked with duck fat and onions.
Fourthly, The Bacon, as above, having cooked with The Beans and then been separated from them.
Fifthly, The Cakes of Sausage, having been formed from loose and uncooked sausage which has no casing (or you may remove a casing if your butcher does not offer loose sausage.)
(The final layer, dried bread crumbs with parsley, drizzled with duck fat, I do not count as one of the five dishes, as bread crumbs with parsley can be purchased from any reputable grocer. You may prepare your own scratch if you prefer.)

Step I. For beans, gather together:
2T lemon juice or liquid whey
2 ½ cups dry white beans of any variety.
4 oz. salt pork
8 oz. lean bacon
½ cup onions
A bouquet of herbs tied in cheesecloth or tied to one another if you lack cheesecloth (such as: 2 cloves of garlic, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf.)

Preparation of beans:

Firstly, one day ahead:
Soak dry beans all day in 1 quart of water with 2T lemon juice or liquid whey.
In the evening, drain and rinse beans and place beans in crock pot with 2 fresh quarts of water and simmer overnight.

Secondly, upon the day of eating Cassoulet:
Drain beans, reserving their liquid for use later..
Place beans into a sauce pan, adding enough of the bean liquid to cover everything. If you lack sufficient liquid, water may be added to make up the difference. Cook beans until tender. (One hour should suffice.)

Meanwhile, slice salt pork into ½ inch cubes.
Once the beans are tender, add the bacon and salt pork and cook another twenty or thirty minutes, allowing the flavors to combine.
Then, drain, reserving liquid once more. Separate the beans and salt pork from the bacon and set aside in 2 vessels, one for beans and one for bacon and pork. Dice the bacon, reserving for layering. You may give it a quick fry if you prefer a crispier texture.

Step II. For Pork, gather together:
1 pound pork tenderloin, or any boneless cut you prefer.
Salt and pepper
Preparation of The Pork:
Roast the pork for 1-2 hours, after sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Allow to cool, reserving juices. When cool, cut into ½” to 1” cubes of meat. Set aside.
Step III. For Lamb, gather together:
1 pound lamb, of any cut, without bones
2 T duck fat
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can (15 oz.) of San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, or 5-6 very fresh tomatoes from your garden, peeled. If desired, you may remove the seeds, but it is a messy business and I avoid it, myself.
1 sprig of thyme
1½ cups dry white wine or vermouth
2 cups beef stock (preferably from bone broth)

Preparation of The Lamb:

Cut lamb into one inch square chunks. Heat the oil in a skillet until almost smoking and add lamb, browning on all sides. If your skillet is not large, you should do this in stages, browning ¼ or ½ of the meat at a time. When all meat has browned, remove the meat from skillet. Add onion and cook in fat, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add meat back to onions, along with smashed garlic, tomatoes, sprig thyme, wine, and stock. Cook together for 1½ hours, simmering slowly. Remove meat and set juices aside for later use.

Step IV. Preparation of The Bacon:
You have accomplished this already, in the preparation of The Beans.

Step V. Preparation of The Sausage:
From 1 pound of a mild sausage of your choice, form small patties of sausage measuring 2 inches across and ½ of an inch tall. Cook in a skilled over medium heat until cooked through, flipping over to ensure even cooking. Drain and discard excess fat.

Step VI. To Assemble the Cassoulet:
Into an 8-quart oven-proof casserole, layer the ingredients as follows:

1/3 of the beans
½ of the lamb
½ of the pork
½ of the bacon and salt pork
½ of the sausage cakes
1/3 of the beans
½ of the the lamb
½ of the pork
½ of the bacon and salt pork
½ of the sausage cakes
1/3 of the beans

Now, over all these layers, pour the juice from the cooked lamb (the juice with tomatoes) and the juice from the roasted pork. These should nearly bring the level of liquid to cover the top layer of beans. If you have yet to cover the top layer of beans, add as much of the reserved liquid as reuired to do so.

Spread over all 1½ to 2 cups dry bread crumbs with parsley.
Heat 3 T duck fat to the melting point and drizzle over the top of the bread crumbs.
Place in oven at 350°F and cook for at least one hour, or for up to three hours at 300°F. It will become gradually drier during the longer cooking time.

If you will be at home while the Cassoulet cooks, you may form an exceptionally tasty crust by repeating the following: every 15 minutes or so, break the crust open in several places using the back of a spoon. Then, using the spoon in the regular fashion, gather liquid from below the crust and drizzle all over the top.   C'est magnifique! 

(The above recipe is copyright material; permission to display recipe received from the copyright holder, Cidney Swanson.  Be sure to check out her website to discover all of her great works!)

Sir Walter's Cassoulet: A Speculative Dinner Party

Hello Beardies, and welcome back!

The Bearded Scribe is, first and foremost, a writing blog. We deal in every kind of speculative fiction there is…and every once in awhile, an opportunity arises for an unconventional post. Such was the case a few weeks ago, when I was sitting in a parking lot, cruising Twitter on my phone while waiting for a choir rehearsal to start, and ran across a tweet from our good friend Cidney Swanson. Cidney, it seems, is writing a cookbook based on her Ripple Trilogy. This tidbit of information piqued my interest right away, because when I’m not writing, I love to cook—and when I was reading the Ripple Trilogy, the food descriptions made me hungry. Intrigued, I tweeted Cidney back asking (half-jokingly) if she needed a recipe-tester. She replied that there remained only one untested recipe: Sir Walter’s Cassoulet, a decadent French dish that requires hours and hours of prep. If I was interested, she would send the recipe. Was I interested? Did she even have to ask? Soon the recipe was in my inbox and I had a new mission.  And not only was this an unconventional mission, but a post that will serve as the first in a new feature on The Bearded Scribe, a feature which will take various food and drink recipes found in speculative fiction literature and test them out... Do you dare venture with us into The Speculative Gourmet?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Quiddity of Speculation: Great Dystopian Novels

Well met and welcome back, Beardies!

Welcome to the second part of the first post in our new series, The Quiddity of Speculation. In the first part, we discussed the ingredients of a good dystopian novel. Now, in the second part, we’ll be talking about a few books and authors who have done the job spectacularly. As you’re reading this post, please keep in mind that there are scores of great dystopian novels available, and don’t let my choices limit your reading. If you don’t see your favorite on this list, please tell me about it in the comments—I am always looking for suggestions!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Quiddity of Speculation: Dystopia 101

G’Day to you, Beardies, and welcome back!

Any day that I get to write a post for The Bearded Scribe is a good day, and today is no exception. Today, we’re unveiling the first post in a new series we’re calling The Quiddity of Speculation. “Quiddity” is a word to which Joshua introduced me while we were throwing around titles for this series. According to Merriam-Webster, quiddity means “whatever makes something the type that it is.” The quiddity of a thing, then, is its very essence. In this series, we’ll dissect different types of speculative fiction in detail, exploring the definition and distinguishing characteristics of each. I’ve literally been researching this post since I joined the team here. It’s been a long time coming, so without further ado, let’s get to it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where Have You Been?

Hello, Beardies!

No, the title of this post isn't referring to Rihanna's latest song--although I must say I'm a fan...

And for those of you who have continued reading after discovering that little nugget of information...  ;)

I want to apologize for my recent absence from posting as of late.  Work has kept me pretty busy, and when I am not slinging cocktails for my devoted groupies, I have been typing away at my latest endeavor:  Project Manuscript Split, Part One.

In adding additional scenes to the first half of the manuscript, a few of the original manuscript's loose ends have surfaced, ones which I am excited to close up and tighten so they do not come loose once again.  As I get closer and closer to where I want the new manuscript to go, I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Only a few more scenes left with the current characters' plot lines, and then back to the rest of the scenes with the "other" cast of characters.

Until I am finished, I will be taking a sabbatical from doing posts of my own, but I will not be abandoning my duties as Executive Editor of the blog.

Stay tuned for a new series of posts from our Assistant Editor, Elizabeth, and until next time, wish me luck :)

Your Editor,

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