Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ha. Things Got Away From Me There...

Been busy, yep.

I've just read and written a review of Roadkill/Siren Beat from Twelfth Planet Press. The review should be up in a day or two at Cool Shite On The Tube, so you can check it out there -- but the short version is: good reading, well worth the money. You get yourself two decent-length stories from two very different, but very interesting authors, all in the one book with two nifty covers.

Meanwhile, I also read and reviewed William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition", and I 'spect that review will find its way up to Cool Shite sooner or later. The book was very interesting. Gibson has slowly but very steadily moved away from his science fiction writing, in a progression you can trace from his seminal trilogy starting with 'Neuromancer', down through the 'Virtual Light' books which were much closer to present-day in their tech -- and here we are with 'Pattern Recognition' and its sort of sequel (well, it shares a few peripheral characters) 'Spook Country' which I am presently reading with great eagerness. Set in what is very much the present day, near-enough-real world. But it's still Gibson, with that lovely prose, asking all those interesting questions about humanity and technology, and I'm still loving it.

Rather less enjoyable was the task of reading Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol". The Shiteheads sent me a free review copy. Now, I failed to finish Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" for the simple reason that it was amateurishly written crap, so I wasn't expecting much this time around. And I got it. I did manage to finish the book, but honestly, it wasn't worth the effort. I'll link to the review when it goes up because I suspect anyone who reads this blog regularly would probably enjoy my... frank and open thoughts on Mr Brown's latest opus.

Aside from catching up on some reading, I've had the usual set of duties, plus a few extras. Today, for example: a couple of my ju-jitsu students are in line for one bar of the three-bar Brown Belt grading, junior status. They've worked and trained hard for quite a while, but since there have been a few newcomers and a few time constraints on classes lately, I haven't been able to put them through their paces. So, since I knew Natalie would be on call today, I arranged to have both lads turn up here.

I put a movie on for the offspring, and then the students and I repaired to The Shed Dojo, where I put them through two hours of reasonably fierce testing. They did pretty well, too. They still have to work through the multiple-attacker scenarios -- we'll need some of the other students to get involved for that! -- but if they carry those off with the same degree of surety, I'll be very pleased.

Meanwhile, the weather's been all over the place again. I'm behind on laundry, and damned if I know whether to put the dryer on 'overkill' to catch up, or just hope that the three lines worth out there in the back yard right now will get enough sun tomorrow to become clothing once more.

Other news? The Mau-Mau discovered bull ants at Day Care. Big red lumps along one shin, but she was only cranky for a while. Those bastards hurt like hell, mind you.

And elsewise? Plenty, but minor. So, it's on to a recipe, I think.

This one involves charcoal-grilling, and I've posted it before. But since I've only recently got myself a functioning char-gorilla once again, I made this the other day -- and holy fuck, it's good.

Smoky Char-Grill Vegetables

Grab a bunch of chunky, juicy vegetables that can stand grilling, and cut them into slabs about a centimetre or so thick. I like to use a mix of ripe tomatoes, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, brown onions, red and green capsicums, and maybe some baby fennel. Put all the slabs of veg into a big bowl, and liberally souse them with good olive oil. Sprinkle a decent helping of sea salt, and grind a shitload of fresh black pepper on them.

Now, fire up your gorilla. When the coals are ready, spread your vegies on the grill. Nice if you can put a big steel bowl or something similar over them to help keep the smoke in place. Then toss a handful of damp, non-toxic wood shavings onto the coals, and step back.

You should get a nice, thick column of fragrant smoke that gets trapped under the bowl (or lid of your grill if you have that kind). One handful of shavings will do. Don't over do it.

Cook the vegies until they're softened, and maybe a little charred here and there. Put them back in their bowl. Add a little more seasoning if you like, and then toss a bit of decent balsamic vinegar at them.

Results: hot, smoky, sweet/salt/sour juicy vegetables. These are so damned good I can easily eat a plateload on their own... but with a little marinated grilled chicken, or a good rare steak they are the most outrageously delectable things going. Perfect with a robust red wine.