Friday, February 19, 2016

Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea by Cynthia Nims

My wife and I spend a lot of time vacationing on the coast of Washington State, and one of the local visitor bureaus was recently bragging about a Washington author's oyster cookbook, so when I found it in the library 500 miles away, I was surprised, and immediately checked it out to...check it out.

Nims provides a great deal of information on the history, biology, and cultivation of oysters, and the many ways they can be prepared. In my years in the restaurant business, I think I've tried most of them, but there are always a few new twists to be found. I think a few of the tips and recipes she showcased may end up on my personal menu pretty soon.

To rewrite an old cliché, there are two types of oyster eaters; those who enjoy the fresh taste of the sea, and the delicate texture of a newly shucked oyster, and those who enjoy smothering the oyster with enough other distractions to ensure that they can forget they're actually eating one.

Come to think of it, there are a number of foods people regard that way.

Nims, however, is of the first sort, and in most of the recipes the ingredients are simply there to enhance in subtle ways the experience of slurping a succulent oyster. Raw oysters with mignonettes, relishes and granites, baked, grilled and smoked oysters, fried and sautéed, steamed and poached, they're all here.

I think a copy of this book may make its way to my kitchen shelves pretty soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Intergalactic Medicine Show by Orson Scott Card

Actually this collection is edited by someone else, but it's the product of one of Scott's writing workshops, so that name fades easily into obscurity, and you'll have no problem finding the book if you search for the title, which is, I believe, also the title of Scott's online publication. Y'all know, if you've been around here a while, how much I love Scott's writing, both fiction and non, and any writers whose stories he is thrilled about are sure to be good.

If you're looking for a few newer authors to add to your watchlist, Card can pick 'em.

Card also publishes a couple of new stories in Ender's universe, and in one of the afterwords he penned a paragraph that had me nodding and chuckling at the same time.

"I had to force myself to keep Bonzo's family from getting too strange. Still, in the real world, everyone's family is strange, in one way or another. On average, families are pretty much alike, but in detail, every family does tings that make people from outside the family shake their heads and wonder how any of the children emerged with their sanity."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

Once in a while you take a flyer on something new, and it turns out to be a nice experience. Such is the case with this book. John Sandford is well know for his "Prey" series of suspenseful mysteries, and I've read a couple of those randomly, so I knew he was a decent writer. Ctein I'd never heard of. Turns out he's an internationally know photography expert with degrees in English and Physics, and he seems to bring a good deal of that knowledge to the project. Indeed, one of the primary characters becomes the videographer for the U.S. expedition to Saturn, which is the whole point of the book, the title, and so forth.

This is some good old-fashioned hard SF, with a minimum of magical handwaving regarding the technology necessary to successfully make a trip to Saturn survivable about five decades from now. A rich dilettante, Sandy, is working in an astronomy facility in California, more interested in surfing and seducing women than watching the stars. So everyone is quite surprised when he is the first to discover an anomaly out near the orbit of Saturn - a massive alien spacecraft on a rendezvous with an artificial moonlet.

There's a bit more to Sandy than meets the eye, and he ends up with what appears to be a plum job when the expedition gets on its way to investigate the aliens and especially to beat the Chinese space ship to the prize.

A good plot, fun characters, and some believable fictional science.