The Gathering Dark, Christopher Golden

This is the latest book in the Shadow Saga series. (The first was Of Saints and Shadows; this is the fourth.

I read the first three several years ago, so the details were a little hazy when I came back to it. I would definitely recommend reading in order. It’s a vampire story, but with a twist. It’s not your standard evil vampires being killed with stakes kind of story. It’s more three-dimensional and explores shades of gray, and it throws in a historical angle that’s pretty cool.

This book had some fun surprises, with lots of dark, creepy stuff that Golden is so fond of.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

This was a reread. I think this is my favorite book of his. The thing I love about reading him is that he’ll be telling a perfectly normal (for him anyway) story, and out of nowhere jumps this turn of phrase or insight that is just so telling. Or hilarious. Or amazingly sad. I really should get his books on audiotape if he reads them himself. I saw him a few years back and he just has a way of telling his stories. He can be uneven, but I really do eny the way he is able to use language to turn agonizing moments into joy.

Ten Big Ones, Janet Evanovich

Yep, I’ve read them all. And this one was particularly good at keeping me distracted at the gym. She manages to keep these interesting and fun, despite being ten books in to the series. And even though the stories have mostly the same characters doing the same things. A long while back, some people were talking on Making Light about the Anita Blake novels and about how the later ones didn’t quite live up to the original ones’ level of interest (to put it politely). And Teresa Nielsen Hayden said that sometimes there’s only so much story to tell for a particular story, but a series will continue because of pressure from fans or the publisher or to make money or whatever.

These Stephanie Plum books are pure fluff, but Janet Evanovich is great finding more story to tell and keeping it fun. Which is exactly what I need at the gym.

cheesy cauliflower and broccoli

I started with a Cooking Light recipe and then just sort of improvised.

One part of the recipe I should have followed? That part about putting bread into the food processor to make bread crumbs. I decided that would be way too much work, since I’d have to get the food processor out and then clean it all later, so I thought I’d just use P.’s huge bread knife to cut the stale sourdough bread that I had into chunks. That was a great idea until the knife slipped on a particularly dry piece and sliced right into my finger. After I jumped around for a while, shrieking, I realized that the bleeding just would not stop. I started wondering if maybe all this food would go to waste while I spent the evening at the ER. I called P. at work in a panic. He must have been imagining severed body parts and splattered blood everywhere. So he rushed home to find my little cut. Which stopped bleeding right before he got there. I refused to go near the bread after that, so he got out the food processor and made crumbs the right way. The top part of my finger still doesn’t have all the feeling in it, and I’m having trouble bending it. I’m sure it will all heal up eventually.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

Some form of bread crumbs. I used about half a loaf of sourdough bread.
1 head cauliflower
2 heads broccoli (they were small)
4 teaspoons butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup low-fat cheddar
Cooking spray
random fresh herbs, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 °.

Steam broccoli and cauliflower. Drain and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 3 garlic cloves; cook until tender. Combine flour and milk, stirring with a whisk; add to pan. Bring to a simmer; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Stir in teaspoon salt, cheese, and pepper. Remove from heat; stir in cauliflower and broccoli. Spoon cauliflower mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Melt remaining 1 teaspoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 3 garlic cloves; cook 30 seconds or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and herbs. Drizzle with garlic-butter mixture; toss to combine. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over cauliflower/broccoli mixture. Bake at 400 ° for 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

This was very good, especially with mashed potatoes and gravy. Even with a hurty finger.

2002 King Estate Pinot Gris

We had a bottle of this wine last week with dinner at The Keg. When the waitress brought the bottle and showed it to us, it was their Pinot Noir. She got really confused when we told her it was the wrong wine. She did eventually come back with the right one, and when I gave it a taste, I immediately said that it was sweet. What I really meant though was that it was fruity. And had I been a marketing brochure, I might have said that it was fruit-forward, as much of Oregon wine is.

I couldn’t quite place the finish, although it was very familiar. The best I could come up with was bitter, but not in a bad way. It’s hard to pinpoint flavors in a restaurant sometimes, with so many smells going on around you. Reading the tasting notes, it makes perfect sense:

This beautiful, pale straw Pinot Gris displays aromas of lime, grapefruit, pineapple, and apple, accented with nutmeg spice and honey. This wine has an explosive fruit entrance with flavors of peach, nectarine, and pear, and a rich balanced mouthfeel and acidity with honey and citrus zest on the exit.

Citrus zest! That’s it! I don’t know that it was complex as all the tasting notes would imply, but I definitely got fruit, then honey, then citrus zest. Very tasty wine, and great with my chicken florentine and cheesy cauliflower.

When we got the bill, we noticed that we had been charged for the Pinot Noir, which was about $10 more. It wasn’t immediately obvious, since the bill just read “Pinot”. We brought it to our waitress’s attention, and she again was confused. She tried to fix the bill in the computer three times, but never could figure out why it kept coming up at the higher price, even after another server tried to explain she was entering the wrong pinot. She eventually charged us for a different wine that was at the same price as ours, and all was well. It’s times like this that you can appreciate restaurants with staff trained in wine, even if their markup is a little more. You’re paying for the expertise, especially if you’re looking for recommendations.