At one point a call is placed on a cellular phone

I was worried when I picked up the latest Book Lover's Cookbook entry, Patricia Cornwell's Unnatural Exposure, that I wasn't entirely up for a gruesome murder mystery. I read quite a bit of Cornwell in my late teens or so, but that was back when my tastes generally ran that direction and I knew a slightly concerning amount about serial killers. These days I find I don't really have the stomach for it, because having children has made me weeeeeeaaaaaaaaak (and/or more empathetic to human suuuuuuffering). For example, I stopped watching Boardwalk Empire when Anna was an infant because during a scene in which a random gangster (who was not nice and would definitely be dead by now anyway and also was fictional) was repeatedly punched in the face, I became overwhelmed with the thought that he was once someone's child. Parenthood is exhausting.

My point being, I didn't really know if I was in the mood for dismembered bodies and such, but what I was in the mood for without even realizing it was a story written in 1997 that centers on everyone being somewhat afraid of and confused by The Internet. It's SPECTACULAR. 

And there are CRAB CAKES in it.

How no-nonsense is everything surrounding our heroine, Dr. Kay Scarpetta? The excerpt in the cookbook is literally just one character saying a recipe for crab cakes, out loud. They are described as "no-fuss." They are from a lady named Bev. No time for frills, there are dismembered bodies everywhere!

Here are my favorite parts of Unnatural Exposure, in the order that they occur:

Page 18  Her beeper goes off.

28  The jerkface investigator's first name is Percy, which brings to mind Thomas & Friends. I hate him immediately and immoderately.

36  The killer sends Scarpetta an email with a picture attached. It takes roughly eighteen paragraphs for her to see it. "An image began to materialize on my screen, rolling down in color, one band of pixels at a time."

81  In case you have spent the past 45 pages wondering what "pixels" are, here is a definition. The definition involves a dot matrix.

109  Whoa did you guys know you could get a portable color scanner for "four, five hundred bucks"?


126 Their tour of Graceland is conducted via cassette tape, although to be fair, this might still be accurate to Graceland, I have no idea.

139 "The point is, scanning files into your computer and sending them through the Internet is very accessible to your average person, which is why telecommunications crimes are keeping us so busy these days." Dammit average people quit ruining everything good with your crimes.

142 The killer has sent electronic mail DIRECTLY TO THE WHITE HOUSE. The missive is all lowercase and lacking punctuation because the killer is actually pretty advanced as far as the internet goes.

191 The Martha Stewart "whipping up something with meringue" on the Today show has never been to jail, because these truly were simpler times.

199 The FBI's big sting operation involves Scarpetta hanging out in an AOL chat room waiting for the killer to happen upon it. This endeavor is successful. ("A/S/L?" she fails to ask, leading me to question her investigative skills.)

243 A character says "Don't you die on me." This is followed, appropriately and necessarily, by "Don't you dare!" This strategy is also successful.

250 A package arrives with a shipping label that appears to have been printed from a computer. Everyone is extremely unnerved by this.

258 This professional profiler is on to you, internet commenters: "His refusal to use punctuation indicates his belief that he is not like other people and the same rules do not apply to him."

General observation: Surnames in this book include Kitchen, Pleasants, Ring, and Wheat, yet the total pun count based on character names comes in at a tremendously disappointing one.

Hilariously terrible association with the recipe even though all the cookbook did this time was copy the recipe straight out of the novel: it is implied more than once that the crab may have been infected by a mutant strain of DEADLY MONKEYPOX.

This probably goes without saying, but I recommend this book very highly.

You'll have to excuse me now, however, as Anna is pitching me on a concept called "The Coffee Factory" that involves chocolate pixie dust and I need to liquidate some assets because I am definitely investing ASAP.


That is in fact why we laughed

Okay, I know I was supposed to be in a demon-cake-induced heat-coma for a few months, but for some reason the rest of my family is refusing to see the many benefits of sleeping until September, possibly because the weather is seriously confusing them right now.

This is uuuuuuhhhhhhhhnusual.

So I guess I won't be giving myself over to the lethargy, no matter how terrific of an idea that is, which is a shame, but hey! While I'm up anyway, look at this! It's a Bon Appetit with a list of summer recipes! Seems like I should probably make them all!

It's a normal thing that people do!

I have to tell you guys, I've probably flipped through this issue a dozen times now and I still can't find the part where I have to kill something, so I dunno, this summer project might be kind of a letdown. I guess that makes sense, given that it's obviously not actually summer because it was sixty-eight degrees yesterday, did you see that? WAIT, AM I HAVING LATE-ONSET HALLUCINATIONS FROM THE CAKE? IS IT A HUNDRED AND THREE DEGREES OUTSIDE AND I'M JUST TRAPPED IN A SEMI-LUCID ESTIVATION DREAM STATE? Of course I would dream that I was blogging about a cooking project I've already done before. Worthless brain.

Guess I'll press on either way, especially since I've already knocked out seven of the forty-eight recipes. Man, I was pretty impressed with my progress before I realized this was all happening in my head.

Possibly phantasmagoric BA#1: Minty Spinach Dip. This is good because it is 75% sour cream.

BA#2-4: Lemon-Ginger Brew, Strawberry-Ginger Lemonade, Extra Stormy Dark and Stormy. I already want to make the lemon-ginger brew again. So I WILL. It's not like I'm bound by the LAWS OF REALITY. And actually, the laws of reality completely allow for this, no problem. 

BA#5: Steak Tacos with Cilantro-Radish Salsa. The steak is chewy, the steak is always chewy, in this and all possible worlds there is chewy steak.

BA#6: Canal House Classic Vinaigrette. If you click on the link, please notice that Bon Appetit chose to showcase this salad dressing by placing a single leaf next to it because they have nothing to prove.

BA#7: German Potato Salad with Dill. I liked this. Were I the sentimental sort, I would point out that I also liked it the first time around, when it was the only enjoyable item on a certain magical
Scandinavian buffet.

In keeping with today's pleasant and slightly otherworldly tone, here is an image that made Anna laugh uproariously:

In keeping with the blog's regular tone, here is what she solemnly explained after a brief pause: "Its eyes are a different size than the glasses. That's why we laughed."


State of torpor: engage

Here is a nice pleasant plate of Martha-approved food items for you, some black pepper tofu with soba noodles, nutritious and not at all horrifying because I feel kind of bad about the other day.

Still a little shaken up? I understand. This homemade butter will help, I promise.

No more nightmares.

And, just so you know, the ghoulish pastry is no longer among us, not because I threw it in the trash and then set the trash bag on fire and then sprinkled the ashes with holy water, but because I wiped it off with about ten paper towels and I ate it. All of it. Because it was fine. And also, I am working on an extra layer of fat because I was just informed by TJ that estivation is a thing and GUESS WHAT TOMORROW IS THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER SUCKERRRRRRRS.

Before that though, I'm soaking up these last few moments of spring, trying to live in the moment and really say "YES" to life, you know? Even when life is four and wants to play Chutes and Ladders, which is just…unquestionably the most mind-numbing way for children to learn about the capriciousness of fate and futility of human effort, even then, still "YES."

It's possible that I'm too devoted of a parent.

She was seriously invested in this.

For a while.

It starts to wear you down.

About 15 minutes in she announced "This game is actually kind of boring" and asked to watch TV.

I have never loved her more.


Flower and the honey/ honey and the flower/ minute after minute/ hour after hour

I let Dan pick out his Father's Day menu from Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home: 52 Quick Meals to Cook for Family and Friends because he is both family and friend and I like quick things. Except whoopsy! I forgot it was Martha, so it was more "quick" as in, "I quickly spent two hours and forty-five minutes in the kitchen and used the food processor twice."

Turns out turkey burgers are pretty bland even if you put parsley in them. I know! I was surprised too.

But I am here to tell you that every second spent and every food processor blade cleaned (TWICE) was worth it for these Blackberry-Almond Shortbread Squares, because they are perfect. (At least the book version, which does not have orange zest, is perfect.)

I also see that, according to the picture that goes with the recipe, they are meant to be eaten with a fork. Which makes sense.

Anyway, everything was very picturesque, great holiday fare, definitely nothing disastrous emerged from the kitchen okay bye guys see you Friday!

Shhh, Anna, we don't have to tell them about that. It's fine. Forget it.

That's right. Happy normal face. 

Alright, well. I don't really trust Anna's poker face to hold up, so I may as well tell you about the chocolate cake. It begins, as so many unfortunate stories do, with The Book Lover's Cookbook. I thought it would be cute to make the "Daddy's Rich Chocolate Cake" that accompanies the excerpt from Bill Cosby's Fatherhood for, you know, Father's Day. FULL DISCLOSURE: for the first time since this project began, I did not actually read the book before attempting this recipe, because I have seen Bill Cosby: Himself somewhere on the order of five dozen times and was pretty sure I had the whole chocolate cake for breakfast thing covered oh don't worry I was punished for my hubris.

In case you, for whatever reason, have not seen Bill Cosby: Himself five dozen times, here you go:

FUN FACT: Remember when I reread Little House on the Prairie and was slightly devastated to realize that I was no longer Laura but rather Ma and that was a shift in perspective that mostly sucked? Well, I am ALSO no longer the lucky child getting cake for breakfast but rather the understandably cranky Mrs. Cosby. So, yay.

The premise of the bit is that the ingredients of cake are generally breakfast-esque when you break them down, so I guess the editors of the BLC decided to double down on that theory and add applesauce? I'm not opposed, but it's a little weird. Also weird that it's one of those "add a bunch of boiling water" cakes which I made even weirder by "not paying attention and adding twice as much boiling water as I was supposed to."

Also, there was no salt at all in the entire recipe, so I added bacon.

Anyway, sure it was in the oven for a pretty long time and the texture's a little off, but aren't you girls still SO EXCITED to be having chocolate cake for breakfast???

Come on, guys. It's not that bad.

 Okay, granted, there is a little bit of leakage.

Very slight caketoplasm situation.

I mean, it's just sugar water. It's a HUMMINGBIRD'S PARADISE!

Come on.

It's fine.



You know it's fun when they make you wear a smock

I truly believe all life-prolonging manuals should involve lentil soup, so good job on that count, Longevity Kitchen. Only kale Nothing feels healthier than a spoonful of teensy legumes. The extra years, they are PILING ON TO ME LIKE SO MANY CLINGY TODDLERS. Wait, one of those is an actual clingy toddler. Anyway, good thing lentils are crazy-cheap, I'll be able to afford my longevity insurance premiums.

Honestly, I believe all cookbooks should involve lentil soup.

On Wednesday, Emily and I met up at Elizabeth Street Café to celebrate our collective birthdays.

Our collective birthdays were an average of 46.5 days ago.

2014 continues to be The Year of Being Right On Top Of Things. Six months in, still going strong.

This was an exciting week for Ivy. First time at the new children's museum!

First day of preschool!

Well, I mean. I was excited.


Annual confirmation that I am not cool: check

The Super Social Food League of Austin went out for ice cream this weekend! It was really very delicious.

Also accurately named, as "milk" and "cream" are 100% the first two ingredients of black coffee.

And while we were, you know, downtown anyway, we dropped by year three of the ATX Television Festival. I needed all that caffeine and sugar (pictured above) because not molesting nearby celebrities takes a significant amount of energy. Here is an incomplete list of the people I worked very hard not to bother this weekend: 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Breckin Meyer
most of the cast of Everwood
Ray Romano
Andy Daly about three hundred different times
Wendi McClendon-Covey
Guillermo del Toro
the dad from The Wonder Years
John Mulaney, who was sitting on a couch a few feet from us being interviewed by an endless parade of white guys wearing glasses
and then Andy Daly some more because I really think he was stalking me a little bit

On that last count, Regan did punish me for being too shy to say "I really like your podcast" by asking him about the coffee he was holding and then talking to him for a full minute about coffee as though he were just a normal person hanging out in front of the hotel and not the creator of one of the year's most acclaimed new comedies who was obviously about to be loaded onto the Celebrity Van To The Airport. I credit her for not even blinking when his answer to where the coffee came from was "the Green Room."

For my part, I took many, many creeper lobby pictures on my phone by pretending that's always how I check my texts, just holding it straight out like that. Next year I will remember to turn off the flash first.


Gentlemen. (Andy Daly on the left, presumably talking about coffee, he seems pretty obsessed with it.)

Hey, voices from Archer! And also I could hear H. Jon Benjamin cracking up during the screening of Archer! That was the festival's most surreal moment, and I went to a Guillermo del Toro premiere. 

Chris Parnell was pumped to be involved.

I actually sat under the stage to see Graham Yost and Joelle Carter. Can't get close enough to Justified, is my opinion.

Ben Blacker was amused by me. Just kidding, he wasn't amused by anything.

This is what writers look like.

I really liked this show and also HEY KEITH CARRADINE! What up, Wild Bill!

Cast of The Strain. I'm not going to show you what the rest of the promotional picture looks like because I do not hate you. Just look at Sean Astin's face and repeat "boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew" while rocking gently back and forth like I did.

You seem like a smart and cheerful man, Mr. del Toro. I definitely cannot watch your work, but I wish you luck in your weird endeavors.

Look how pretty Wendi is with normal hair, guys.

Hi John Mulaney! Still don't know about multi-cam, but you are very adorable!

Whew, anyway, enough of that, am I right? Let's take it down a notch and watch Anna express to me the fact that she has ketchup on her pants through dance.

And now I have to go because I think I might have pinkeye and also it's Ivy's first day of "school" today, so, you know, my baybeeeee and also my eyyyyyyyyyyyye.

ETA: Here is Regan's take on the weekend, note how I was possibly even downplaying the degree to which she tortured me.