Monday, June 24, 2013

Here's looking at you kid, or in this case Young Adult

On Saturday I went to Bogart’s Bookstore and Cafe in Millville to attend a local young adult author panel.  I love Bogart’s and I wish that it was closer to my current location (or that they could open another Bogart’s in The Voorhees Town Center and then I could walk across the street and visit anytime I like).  Bogart’s is delightfully charming with just the right dash of quirk.
Their drinks are tasty and they have a great supply and variety of new and used books.
I loved my lavender lemonade.
There were five young adult authors on the panel.
They each discussed and then read an excerpt from their novels and then came the part of these types of events that I sometimes hate. The question and answer time.
A Rant if I May
There is a particular etiquette that should be followed when asking questions at author panels.  You should never start out your question with “I” unless it is, “I read your book and I  really loved it.”  You should not start out your question with , “I wrote a book and I was wondering if you could…..because these questions never end well.  I believe that authors enjoy talking about the art and process of writing.  They like discussing their novels but I believe that probably for the most part the publishing world is still just as mysterious a maze as before they were officially published.  If the purpose of the panel is geared toward getting published then you can ask questions but if it is geared toward the writers and their works, questions should be kept to those topics.  Authors cannot, hook you up with their/an agent.  Authors can’t help you get in with their publishers.  Authors are not going to read your (a complete stranger’s) manuscript and critique it for you (unless that is a paid service the author provides). They are not there to answer questions and discuss your yet to be published project during the open panel (though if you purchase one of their  books and get them to sign it you could probably slip in a question or two…no more than that though). Thanks for letting me vent that out.
I thought all five authors were great and each had a different interesting story. Since I already had a pretty good stack of books at home to read I told myself ahead of time that I would adhere to a two book minimum.
The two books I purchased were
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets-by Evan Roskos- After he read the first few pages I knew I had to read the entire book.  How could I resist a teen who wants to be like and speaks like Walt Whitman and talks to an invisible pigeon. I was excited to see that Evan was added to the Collingswood Book Festival's list of authors.  It will fun to hear him speak again after I've read the book.
I enjoyed his reading and that his superhero teen boy had thoughts probably more related to what a lot of us would actually think when you are a superhero.  Not like “a monster is before me and I will vanquish it with my superhero powers, but more like,(with sarcasm) great a giant monster, with tentacles, yippee, can’t wait to fight that.  Pab also won some points because I ended up realizing that I met him in the past.  I knew he looked familiar and when he said he did Nanowrimo I knew I had met him at past write-ins.  Of course I had to buy a book by a fellow Nanoer.
The three other authors were women
Trinity-by Lauren D. Fraser - I may have to pick this one up sometime in the future. It is about three sisters who begin having strange dreams and in order to uncover the meaning of their dreams they must travel to Scotland and have an amazing adventure.
Earth Child: The E.D. Piper Chronicles - by Laura J. Kaighn - Since I arrived a little bit late I actually missed Laura's talk and excerpt reading.  The story looks interesting.  It is about a girl who is a shape shifter who is being pursued by a geneticist who wants to exploit her abilities and use them to build a super army.
From Hunt to Teen -by Renata Brodie - This seemed a bit reverse Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  A girl is brought up to hunt down, fight and kill all manner of evil creatures and after fifteen years she decides she wants to find out what it is like to be a regular teen (of course you can never truly hide from evil).  What I thought was fun was that the villain turns out to be a descendant of Elizabeth Bathory.  She is one of the most creepy real life historical villainesses ever to have lived.  She even has her own card in the Evil Baby Orphanage game.   
All of the authors were very nice and gracious and I'm glad that Bogart's hosted the event.
Note: Evan had free stickers that promoted his book.  Brilliant, I know.  Who doesn't like stickers?  I'm an adult and I still enjoy the occasional sticker. That was an impressive marketing idea.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nightmares officially haunted

We are ice cream snobs, meaning that we prefer homemade ice cream from small mom and pop shops over the kind found in the freezer of a grocery store (not that there's anything wrong with that). We have three current ice cream haunts
-Springer's- Stone Harbor, NJ (they really are the best and the only place I know to have peanut butter Oreo ice cream)
-Franklin Fountain- Olde City, Philadelphia (because who doesn't like ice cream served by a guy with a bow tie and a curly mustache)
-Sundaes-Berlin, NJ (it is oh so conveniently located next to our favorite store All Things Fun!)
We are always on the lookout for a new delightful creamy addition to our list and when I saw that there was a homemade ice cream shop in Fishtown I  knew we had to check it out.
Little Baby’s Ice cream is connected to a pizza shop called Pizza Brain that boasts the nation’s first pizza museum. 

Their pizzas looked good and had some interesting toppings so we will have to make a return trip at some point. Equally interesting were the ice cream flavors Little Baby’s offered.  We were treated to free samples as soon as we entered the shop. 
After sampling four of the flavors I settled on one scoop of Balsamic Banana and one scoop of Coffee Toffee.  My husband had one scoop of Birch Beer Vanilla.  All of the flavors were tasty but I especially liked the Balsamic Banana.  As samples we also tried the Red Bean Rice Krispy and the Bourbon flavor.  I'm not sure if you can get drunk from eating ice cream, but it wouldn't surprise me if you ate a scoop of Little Baby's Bourbon flavor.
After  ice cream we found that our legs were still thirsting for a stroll so we drove over to Northern Liberties and stumbled upon their weekly  flea market that sets up in the Piazza every Sunday.
The flea market prompted us to have a conversation concerning what the difference is between vintage items and junk found in your Grandfather's basement or attic.  To be honest I really can't explain it using words.  I could look at something and tell you that it is vintage ( as opposed to junk and that's mostly based on pinterest and stuff I read on blogs) but I couldn't tell you why.
There were some interesting things at the flea market.  Here is something new to haunt my nightmares thanks to Dr. Who and my already established fear of clowns.
There were a lot of things that I wanted to purchase
but I couldn't build a solid enough case for why I had to have them nor could I identify an exact place in our house for them to go so I left with my arms empty.
It ended up being a great day, we devoured meat, ate ice cream and walked about at a flea market.  Days like that are ones that make me glad that I live so close to a city.
All along the sidewalks in Fishtown there were trash cans painted to look like monsters.  I guessed that they were created to encourage residents to throw away their trash in the proper place.  I didn't mind them but my husband found them disturbing. He thought that this one looked like "Grimace gone bad."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fat Pig

     Since the demise of Little Louie’s in Collingswood we have felt a little lost as to where to go to get a bbq fix.  After a bit of searching we decided to venture into the Fishtown section of Philadelphia to give Fette Sau (Fat Pig) a try. 
     For those who are not familiar, Fishtown used to be a section of the city that you would avoid venturing to but it has slowly been evolving into a cool place to hang out.  With places like Frankford Hall and Barcade springing to life like kernels of hipster popcorn the area has potential though most venues are still located between expanses of nothing causing  a lack of strollability. 
     Fette Sau certainly has presence.  As soon as we walked up and I saw the inviting picnic tables and the weathered house front with porch seating it set my mind to think, this is going to be a meal I am going to enjoy.

There is no wait staff at Fette Sau.  You approach the counter and have the opportunity to feel like a caveman as you survey your meat options (pointing and grunting is optional).  At first it felt a little overwhelming because we wanted to try everything, it was a good thing that the way the meal is served, you actually can try a bit of this and that without feeling like a completely fat pig when you are done.
We ended up getting a sampling of brisket, pulled pork, sausage, and ribs.  Our carnivorous choices were laid out family style on top of a piece of parchment paper set on a cookie sheet.  I thought that was a pretty neat culinary display.  For our sides we decided on the burnt end baked beans and the chili butter rubbed corn on the cob.  It was a lot of food and all together the entire meal which was more than enough for the two of us cost about $40.00. 
   As my drink option I chose the cider that was on tap (they also have a selection of craft beers on tap) because who can resist a drink served in a mason jar? 
After settling down at a picnic table we tore into our food.

I appreciate bbq places that dish out your meat sans sauce and then let you decide what kind and how much sauce to douse your food with.  Over saturated pulled pork is rather unpleasant.  Fette Sau offered three bbq sauce options.
Dr. Who fans will know which bottle I wanted to add an "ie" to.
Everything was yummy but my favorites were the pulled pork and the ribs (and I’m ordinarily not a big rib fan).  The baked beans and the corn on the cob were also fantastic.  Every so often friendly staff approached our table and asked how we were and if we needed anything.  I’m pretty sure the actual chef came to talk to us but he didn’t announce that he was the chef or anything like that so I’m not 100% certain.  Inside there are several extra-long tables and given the venues laid back feel it seems like it would be a fun place to chill with a big group of friends (only if those friends were not vegans or vegetarians). 
They did have some delicious dessert options, but we had a specific dessert destination in mind….
I can't eat bbq without wanting to sing this song from Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas

Friday, June 7, 2013

Jam Tomorrow, Jam Yesterday...

….But Never Ever Ja-aam-mmm Today.

I love strawberry season.  As they sit in their little blue cartons at the farmer’s market, they looked so fresh and vibrant. I always have to pick up one or more pints every week while in season and at least once I must use them to make refrigerator strawberry jam.  Since I still need to purchase proper canning supplies, refrigerator jam is an easy way to make fresh jam and once made it will last in your fridge for one month (I’ve kept it longer and had no problems).

You will need

4 cups of fresh strawberries- stems removed and cut in half (I sometimes cut them smaller)

1 cup sugar (I like to use organic non-processed sugar)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a pot and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once it reaches a boil, lower heat to a simmer. 

.  Let the contents simmer, stirring occasionally until it becomes thick.  The recipe I use says to simmer for an hour but I’ve found it takes quite a bit more time.  It is one of those nice things to leave on simmer and wander away to fold some laundry or put away dishes or check your Facebook, strolling back to it every so often to give it a stir all the while allowing your nostrils to indulge in the blissful jammy scent.

Once it thickens but still retains some juicy strawberry chunks, take the pot off of the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Let the jam cool.  Once cool transfer the jam to a sealed container that can be kept in your fridge.


I found that this jam works great in The Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Oatmeal Bar recipe.  You just need to make a double batch of jam so you will have enough.
I can never make jam without singing the jam song that Carol Channing sings in the made-for-television-all-star-cast version of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. I remember watching it when it first aired in December 1985.  My seven year old self was in epic grand musical rapture. We tapped it on the VCR so I could watch it over and over and over again, as seven year olds do and the Jam song was always my favorite( The Lion and the Unicorn being my second favorite song).   I was giddy with excitement a few years ago when I found a used copy of the movie.  I still loved it as it transformed me back into my seven year old self even after all of these years,  but my husband fled after twenty-five minutes claiming that it might be the worst most cheesy thing every put to film.  To each his own I guess.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello Everyone.  May proved to be a wily month that could not be tamed.  I'm going to get back on track with blogging in June just as soon as soon as I can get to it....