Tracking family time, vacation time, and book launch travel

I’ve just ordered a big 12-month wall calendar, because it was starting to feel overwhelming trying to keep track of everything with GCal alone. The shared family GCal is working well for us in most respects, but it makes it hard to see things over the course of the year.

I’m hoping having this up on the wall where the kids can see it too will help with planning Sunday dinners (and giving them something to look forward to), letting them know when Mommy or Daddy is going out of town for work (and when we’re coming back), and helping us all make sure that there’s enough family time and vacation time in the calendar too, something that we lost track of a bit last year, to our sorrow.

Kev and I also spent a while talking about just how much book launch travel I want to do this year. It’s not easy to figure out, honestly — even aside from budget questions, there’s time, esp. working around my teaching schedule.

But I do hope we can make a Seattle trip possible — Nora Gause was a huge help in figuring out where I might want to come back and do events, and I’m hoping we can do something at Capitol Cider, where she and I met for a fun evening of drinks (so many cider options!). We’re talking about devising a little Sri Lankan menu for the chefs there, so we can offer an event with food and drink.

Not positive what kind of event, exactly — I don’t know a ton of Sri Lankan writers in the area or anything. But will brainstorm. Maybe something with sci fi folks? It’s not the most natural pairing, but I do know a lot of SF people in the area. Hmm… A sci-fi event, but one that ends up featuring me, The Stars Change, and the Sri Lankan cookbook? Is that too weird?

#serendibtravel
#serendibkitchen

I chose this work

One of the points raised in this conversation, about teaching South Asia in the academy, is that we think a lot about how to create safe spaces for students, where they can productively think and learn and grow, but we don’t have nearly that kind of attention to the safety of faculty.

Someone asked me after the panel, “Where is the duty of care for us?”

It’s a good question. There are days when I’m exhausted by the topics that come up in class, days when I’m driving home with Kevin and I comment enviously that it must be so much easier not having to deal with any of this in a math class. I chose this work, of course.

And I think it’s incredibly valuable having me, in my brown, queer, female body, standing up in the front of the room, for a variety of reasons. But it’s tiring. I’m tired, people. And there are days when I am not sure I have the emotional fortitude to engage as directly with the material as I would like.

(It’s easier on the page sometimes, but even there, especially if you’re active on social media, it can get vicious and frightening. Ref: Meghan Elison‘s recent essay on the topic, that I posted to my wall a few days ago: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/writing-with-my-keys-between-my-fingers/)

At the end of this panel, I ended up standing up and talking about a few incidents I’ve experienced recently, where hostile students were aggressive enough towards me that I was actually a little worried; I ended up talking to both Kevin and my chair about those incidents, documenting them. I don’t think either will turn into anything, but it was unnerving.

As we discussed in the room, every single professor of color there has experienced similar incidents, and it seemed, unsurprisingly, that the women among us had experienced more of them. It’s gotten worse in the last year or two. America under Trump, I suppose, and an emboldening of background racist ideas that live in people’s subconscious.

We talked about strategies for combating it, and I do think some of it can be lessened with appropriate framing of the class in the first days of the semester. Talking about background racism up front, discussing privilege, defining the terms. I already do a lot of that, but one professor said she gives them handouts at the start of the semester, and perhaps I should add that too, just so there’s something authoritative on paper that they can reference, rather than perhaps half-listening to the words I’m saying. It might help.

I particularly want to call out something helpful Rahul K. Gairola offered. I’d said that I found myself wondering if I’d done something differently in my teaching that led to these incidents (been more blunt, let a little more of my frustration show, perhaps?) — and he said that that while he appreciated my self-reflection, that I shouldn’t give in to gaslighting, or as he called it, gas-white-ing.

If I thought I was suddenly getting a lot more hostility from a few of my students, I probably was. And it almost certainly had nothing to do with anything different I’d done. The world has changed a little since Trump’s election. That’s all.

So now we resist, and come together in community to strategize, to seek and give support. Sometimes to grieve. I’m glad I was able to take the time to attend SALA, to attend this panel. It made me feel a little less alone. I hadn’t even realized how much these incidents had bothered me, until I got up and started talking about them.

Documenting this all here, in the hopes it will help someone else. Onward, to another semester on Monday. I’m teaching postcolonial lit., and writers of color in SF/F. Plenty of fraught material to come.

#serendibwriting
#serendibteaching

Happier and healthier relationship to food

content note: weight / exercise

As a side note to the long healthy travel post a little ways back, I must admit that I do still fret about appearance and weight too. I almost don’t want to talk about it, because I’ve spent enough time reading through work from the fat acceptance community to know just how much damage these ideas can cause.

And yet, here we are, and one essential component of my job as a writer is, I think, to be as honest as I can. Even if sometimes what I’m saying is problematic, and may even reveal poor thinking.

I’m sitting on a plane right now, and I find it deeply irritating that my momma belly is protruding notably over the seatbelt and onto the bottom of my laptop. I try to love my body, and am glad I was able to use it to help create my two munchkins, but I would be happier without quite so much of this physical residue.

When I packed for the trip, I prioritized comfort and layers most of all (with my thyroid condition, I get hot and cold easily, so layers are key), but I’ve watched enough What Not to Wear to have learned from the fabulous Stacy London that tailored layers that skim the body are the most figure-flattering — by which they mean ‘makes you look as thin and tall as possible’. At 5’0″, tall is not so feasible, and every additional pound is very visible on my frame.

I really don’t stress about it most of the time, even though I’m two sizes bigger than I’d like to be. I try to have fun with my clothes, pick them primarily for style and color and general aesthetics, not for which ones make me look the thinnest. But packing for a trip and choosing a set of clothes brings the frustration and anxieties out.

I’m supposed to make a bunch of cooking videos, promised for the Kickstarter, and I had to really make myself do them.

In the end, I did have some fun with it (it helped SO MUCH having Kavi and Jed and other friends being willing to do the videos with me), but I fretted about my clothes and how thin I looked in them a lot for the first one. And now I have to edit them, and I’m having a hard time making myself look at the raw footage. I may have to pay someone to edit them in the end, just so I don’t have to push through my self-consciousness first, which feels like a ridiculous waste of money, but I have only so much fortitude, people.

And I know, no one really cares but me. Heck — people probably like to buy cookbooks from plump cooks. I look like I love food, right? I do love food. But if I’m going to be writing about food a lot, I think I’m going to have to spend a little time working through how I talk about it, and about my relationship with it.

If I try to cook ‘healthier,’ which is such a fraught and coded word, I need to think about what ‘healthier’ means to me. I’m not a nutritionist, after all. And I’m not immune to the fads and bad food science that sweep through the cultural consciousness, powered by the diet industry.

I’m going to try to mostly keep ‘diet’ talk out of my food writing, I think, in the calorie restriction sense. But I probably will be talking a fair bit in the next year about things like eating whole foods, including protein in meals, adding in more plant-based ingredients. Reducing carbs, perhaps. But also maybe increasing fat? Additional satiety sometimes means you desire to eat less.

I’m very interested in the question of why diets almost never work. What are the contributing factors that lead to that, particularly in terms of social supports for those who are trying to make diet / exercise / lifestyle changes? (Or rather, the pervasive lack of such supports.)

I want to think through how we can, as a culture, learn to have a happier and yes, healthier, relationship with our bodies and our food.

No real conclusions here, just questions and embarrassed admissions. I did go back for seconds at lunch the other day, but picked the salmon and sweet potatoes, instead of the shortcake, because I was trying to make the healthier choice. It was delicious, filling, and kept me going happily through a long afternoon of work.

#serendibkitchen

Pictured: Me taking a selfie in the mercury glass of the hotel elevator, trying to look thin. Sigh.

Eating well, and healthy food choices

content note: exercise / healthy food choices
also: request for advice / suggestions

 

So, I’m planning on traveling a lot in 2020, with constructing the book tour for Feast, along with SF convention work for the SLF. Prioritizing health is surprisingly difficult to manage with this much travel. It’s become clear that at 48, my body isn’t as resilient as it used to be. I get sick much more easily, I gain weight more quickly — just maintaining my base health levels become challenging when I add travel.

That said, I also both need to travel for work, and I love traveling. Seeing new places, visiting far-flung friends and making new ones, eating local food — those are great joys in my life.

I’d honestly love to travel more; if I can figure out a way to become more of a travel & food writer, combining that with everything else I do, I’ll be thrilled. I’m also often startlingly productive with my writing while traveling — I’m writing this on the plane right now, and my agent told me that Diana Gabaldon famously writes constantly in taxis while traveling. I *think* this can all go together, and as the kids get older, I’m hoping I can start taking them along on occasion, and Kevin and Jed too.

So I NEED to find a way to travel in a healthy manner. I submit to you a photo of the available options when I arrived at baggage claim. I was feeling snack-ish, and would have been delighted to eat some of the gorgeous persimmon salad pictured on the cover of the Eating Well magazine I was reading at the time, but none of that on offer for me — chips, chips, and more chips. Chips are tasty, of course, but I can’t argue that they’re healthy options.

Once in a while, I’ll see a Farmer’s Fresh in an airport, but their business model depends on high enough traffic that the salad greens and such can turnover quickly; we looked into getting one for our library, but we don’t have enough volume for them. If I want healthy food in transit, I basically have to plan ahead and bring it with me.

Not easy with fresh greens, but not impossible, with a little strategizing. I’m going to be trying to think a lot about this. I can’t remember who it was told me about an author they knew on book tour who would pack and bring coolers of poached chicken breast with her. I’m not quite that committed, I think, but something to think about.

Some of this is money, of course. If I’m willing and able to spend a little more, I can usually find healthier food choices. Sometimes that means going to a sit-down restaurant instead of grabbing snacks from a vending machine. I’m going to try to prioritize budgeting for that whenever possible, because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. My dad the doctor used to say that to me, and more and more, it’s clear that’s more true than I’d like it to be.

I had a lot of conversations at this conventions with other writers about health. Cancer really did give me a kick in the pants, you know. That was when I told Kevin that we needed to prioritize budgeting for health going forward. Physical health, mental health.

I can’t remember exactly when it was that Kev and I had our summer of weight lifting (I think before cancer, actually), where we both somehow ended up committing to it fairly seriously, and would go and workout pretty much every day, passing each other on the way to the basement to trade off time on the weights.

A friend complimented my arm muscles earlier today (thanks, Sugi ), and another told me that I was looking great. I told both of them that it’s all pretty much due to that one summer; it had lasting effects on my body. I didn’t lose pounds, but my body reshaped itself. I dropped two dress sizes, and have basically stayed at that size since, despite not really dieting or exercising steadily.

This is, of course, what all the weight-lifting books and advocates and fitness trainers will tell you — muscle burns more calories, so if you build more muscle, then you can eat more without gaining weight. And once you build it, it tends to stick around, in my experience, unless something like a serious illness lays you out.

I must have done the weight lifting before cancer, maybe the year before? Because I remember, during chemo and its attendant exhaustion, the months laying on the couch, being so frustrated, fretting that all my muscles, all that hard work, would wither away. Thankfully, they didn’t go that fast. And my doctors told me that part of why I handled chemo and surgery and radiation so well was that I was in decent physical shape to begin with.

I’m trying to get back to exercising daily. As I realized recently, I basically stopped exercising last August, when the semester started and I got intensely busy with that and Kickstarter fulfillment. I also, not coincidentally, got sick a lot more last fall than I have in a while — I kept catching colds, one after another, which slowed me down.

It’s hard to make the time to exercise, but if I don’t, I lose at least that much time to sickness, which is even less fun than lifting weights. I actually kind of like lifting weights — it’s just getting myself started again that’s hard. (It’s key that I originally started with a class, and working with a trainer; that gave me the confidence to be able to walk into a weight room and use it without feeling self-conscious, and without worrying that I’d hurt myself. Highly recommended if you’re thinking about starting lifting.)

I have a few sessions left with a personal trainer from last summer; I’m going to schedule them again now, to help myself get started again. If I had the budget, I’d meet with her three times a week; instead, I’m going to rely on tracking again, maybe a workout group or girlfriends or making a deal with Kevin — something to help keep me accountable.

I have a FB group for fitness, actually, Olympians, but it’s been a little quiet lately. Maybe time to start it up again more actively, for myself at least. Make a plan for the semester, a pledge.

Weights at least twice / week, tracking and progressing (I love watching the little numbers climb. “Today I can do 10 deadlifts of 45 pounds. Next week, it’ll be 12. The week after, I’ll bump it to 50 pounds, and drop down to 8 deadlifts, or even 6. And slowly, but steadily, progress.”

Daily cardio of some kind, too, if at all possible. I’m not sure I’m going to manage the cardio today, given travel complexities, but I did go to the hotel gym every day I was here, even when I was feeling tired and a little sick, and I walked around town whenever possible, so I did pretty well overall. And I ALWAYS felt better after exercising. I have to try to remember that.

Maybe I can go to the pool and do some laps tonight, after I get home and see the kids and eat dinner with them. I think the lap lanes are open 9-10 or so. I should check. Hmm… Learning how to swim properly has been a huge boon and a great investment in my long-term health. It took me until age 45 or so, and I still am not quite as confident as I’d like to be, but I’m so much better than I was a few years ago, and swimming is both great exercise and something I can do for the rest of my life.

And then there’s food. A salad daily, if at all possible. Salads rarely excite me as a concept, especially when I’m feeling cold, but I actually usually like them when I’m eating them; I have to try to remember that. I had Asian gingered ground chicken in lettuce wraps at the airport restaurant today, and it was a great choice, tasty and filling, giving me a good boost of energy to carry me through working on the plane back to Chicago (though twice the price of the fried egg roll option, of course).

Beyond that, I’m going to have to just try to be more conscious, and to strategize while traveling. If there’s nothing appealing in the hotel restaurant (and the prices are usually exorbitant anyway), how about walking a few blocks away to get something healthier? What delivery options are there?

That’ll often be less convenient, and if I’m really tightly scheduled with back-to-back panels, it may not be possible, so I need to plan for that too. Kind bars and granola and bison bars? Apples and clementines. Sometimes I’m craving salt — I should have a ‘go bag’ for travel already packed with salted pistachios.

I need to sit down and make a travel packing list anyway, so I don’t forget the swimsuit and sneakers and sports bra and the little cards with the body weight exercises if the hotel doesn’t have a decent gym. And yes, take all of that, even if I’m not sure I’m going to use them, even though they take up room in the suitcase and it means I have to check a bag. It’s worth it. Prioritize the hotel with a pool, even if it’s $10 / night more expensive.

My trainer suggested protein shakes that just need water added. Is there a similar thing with chicken broth? Instant oatmeal and dried fruit and nuts, since the hotel rooms usually have a way of making boiling water? What do athletes do for food on the road? I need to be much more intentional about all of this in advance, because I get anxious if I don’t have sufficient food near me me, and sometimes that leads me to making poor choices.

And of course, as a food writer and a general lover of food, I do eat out a lot, and sometimes that means I’m ordering the fries. Exercising regularly (not excessively) means I can do that on occasion with fewer qualms.

I was troubled by how often when this came up in conversation at the convention this week, people said they didn’t exercise while traveling. Maybe it’s not a big deal — maybe their health is generally good enough that their constitutions can take a few days of sedentary convention sitting at tables without much impact? But my body clearly can’t handle that these days; I start feeling terrible very quickly.

So here’s the thread where I encourage you to take care of yourselves on the road, whatever that looks like for you and your one singular beautiful body.

It’s also the thread where I invite you to give me your exercise / healthy eating while traveling / avoiding getting sick on the road suggestions.

What do you do to take care of yourselves on planes, trains, and automobiles? I’d love to make myself a list!

#serendibtravel
#serendibkitchen
#serendibwriting

The opening to one of my poems

Funny moment at SALA — someone stopped me in the hall and said she liked the problem with going deep is that you can fall in. And I had this moment of bewilderment, because that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember why. And then she explained a little more, and I realized oh, right, that’s the opening to one of my poems that’s in Feast, and I had put a copy out on a table for browsing.

Maybe I should write less, so I remember it better. 

*****

Homesick

The problem with going deep
is that you can fall in.
You find yourself reheating
frozen food, a pale imitation
of the real thing. Making
other dishes over and over
trying to remember
decades-old cinnamon
in the nose, lime on the tongue,
chili heat lingering on your lips —
a pain that you seek out repeatedly.

Sometimes you think your heart
can’t take it; it would be easier
to order pizza instead. Who
doesn’t love melted cheese?

Yet here you are, microwaving
frozen hoppers that you keep
stashed in the basement
deep freeze. Hoarded for
those days when you need
them, even if it hurts.

*****

#serendibkitchen
#serendibwriting

A complicated relationship with magazines

I have this weird love-hate relationship with magazines. I’ve bought a lot of them in my time — I went through a big Martha Stewart Living phase, for example. Cook’s Illustrated is a perennial favorite. All the shelter magazines were in heavy rotation when we were renovating our house, and these days, I’m reading (well, skimming) tons of food magazines, as I think about pitching and writing essays for them, mostly to help promote the cookbook. I even fantasize about an occasional Serendib Home magazine.

This time of year, the magazines are chock-full of resolutions and ways to improve your life. There’s something so seductive about the way magazine articles promise not just to entertain, but to inform, to make your life better. And you don’t need to read a big thick book first, no! Who has time for that? Here’s a helpful tip, a life hack. Something you can read in a few minutes (illustrated with gorgeous, sexy pictures) and implement immediately.

I’m not saying it’s a big lie, exactly. But if you read several issues of say, Real Simple, in a row, you realize that they’re basically telling you the same things over and over, such as advising you to get rid of your stuff! But what if you need your stuff, and can’t afford to just buy it again when you need it?

And all while they try to sell you more stuff (explicitly in marked ads, and implicitly in hidden advertorial content), slightly more expensive than your old stuff, but just that little bit prettier or more efficient. Presumably selling you those because the real money that supports the magazine comes from ad sales.

After being introduced at Clarion by our instructor Nicola Griffith to the parts of the publisher’s promo budget that go for things like magazine ‘advertorials’, I became deeply suspicious of the magazines themselves. (Honestly, I was a little shocked when I learned that which books go face front on the shelves, or on end caps, or on the front table, are paid for by the publishers. I was very naive.) That’s a lot of why I wanted my magazines (Clean Sheets, Strange Horizons, Jaggery) to be community-supported from the beginning. Though of course, the internet ad money mostly drying up within a few years contributed to that decision too…

I do still enjoy magazines. When I read an issue of The English Garden, I often do come away with at least 2-3 ideas that I make notes on, to try to implement in my own garden. Wouldn’t these rose vines look better with clematises climbing on them, so that you have active blooms in that spot for more of the year? If my home and garden are beautiful, it’s in large part due to all the magazines I’ve consumed. Also the books and the TV shows on design, of course, which mostly aren’t selling products to you quite as intensely, but the books usually have a larger up-front cost (hooray for libraries), and TV you’re paying for in other ways.

I’m just feeling a little conflicted about writing for magazines. I want to be careful to try to write things that are worth your time to read, even if the editors decide to pair my recipe for Instapot chicken curry with a feature spread on ‘the three best Instapots, ranked!’ A feature that was probably paid for by those particular Instapot manufacturers.

I can’t be too precious about that structure; it’d be hypocritical. That ad money is what lets the magazine exist, and what lets them pay me for my essay. And of course, I’m mostly writing my essay in the hopes that people like it enough that they read my bio at the end, notice that I have a cookbook for sale, and think “Oh, I want to buy that!” Capitalism, hmph. I wish I could just GIVE everyone copies of the cookbook. In the post-capitalist utopia to come, perhaps.

Just — I hope people are aware that so much of what these magazines are selling (peace, calm, an organized home, world cuisine recipes your children will adore), often require more money to achieve easily.

Quick tip! Buying a host of beautiful squared off, stackable glass jars will make your kitchen spices look much more organized, clean, and aesthetically pleasing, like something in a magazine! But those gorgeous square jars (oh, Container Store, I can’t quit you…) will also cost a lot more than recycling the spaghetti sauce jars and bouillon cube jars, the kind my mother uses to hold her spices.

Plus, if you display those spice jars on open shelves near the stove, you’d better be able to afford the time to clean them of accumulated kitchen grease and dust at least quarterly — monthly would be better. You need to afford the time yourself, or be able to afford to pay something else to do it.

Well. I don’t mean to be too dreary and fun-spoiling. And I’m not undoing capitalism today. But I can at least try to think about what aspects of the things I do can be replicated without spending a lot of money or time. And I can think about what makes for good design, which doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be expensive.

Mostly I can try to keep talking about this issue, every once in a while at least, because the last thing I want is for someone to see a beautiful photo of my food, or my kitchen, or my garden, and beat themselves up because they struggle to achieve the same. It’s not you — it’s the system, and in particular, the way the economic divide has widened in the last decades.

Maybe a magazine piece can offer a tiny bit of help, though, if done well. A new practice that clicks, and turns into a rewarding habit?

A little easing of the road, a new perspective, a spot of beauty. That’s something to strive for.

#serendibhome
#serendibkitchen

A quick peek into the Sunday of a writer

Here’s a little peek at the Sunday of a writer / non-profit arts administrator / small press publisher.. Woke up, had coffee, forgot to eat breakfast (oops), sat on couch and started processing e-mails & FB messages, ended up:

• starting to set up a monthly RPG for my “Jump Space” universe (good for SF writing, hopefully, as well as game design research)

• starting to set up a monthly cookbook club for local friends (obviously also good research for me as I promote the cookbook, work on the gluten-free sampler, etc. — might suggest a gluten-free cookbook for our first joint effort)

• spent about two hours working on SLF grants, publicizing the two newly-open grants (South Asian and Older Writers, though please note Working Class grant is also still currently open — applications encouraged to all!) and working on structural aspects both for getting more grant administrators / jurors (both badly needed) and doing a better job with our press releases and general publicity

Now I’m going to eat something (must remember to eat, Mary Anne!) and finish repotting a terrarium. Will post photos when I get a chance, which also goes to developing the gardening memoir that I hope to do down the road.

Will follow that up from noon – 2 with teaching D&D basics to a few people, which is an SLF thing too, as it’s part of the “Maram Makerspace – Gaming” ongoing activities.

And then the rest of the day is alternately working on my Wild Cards revision (slightly overdue, sorry, George), teaching the kids how to make lasagne (#sundaydinner), and continuing the big clean-up / re-org of the house. (The latter two with Kevin‘s help.)

For Wild Cards, I’m planning to start the revision work while walking on the treadmill (I use my laptop tied to a board over the arms), because I actually think better while walking, and also because I haven’t yet done any exercise today, and I really am trying to do some kind of daily exercise in this New Year, because not exercising was such a negative about fall of 2019. (I missed yesterday, which makes me cranky.)

For the house, we’ve been here 10 years (eep), and somehow, that’s translated into this being the year when everything gets revisited and reset somewhat (like the kids’ playroom transitioning into an art / lounge space; the basement beer-making area being reformed into a small business production space for the cookbook now that Kev’s given up beer making, etc.).

I’d really LOVE to get the house shift done before the semester starts on the 13th, but that’s perhaps optimistic of me, esp. if I keep getting sidetracked into things like hanging art, which is good, but perhaps less essential than actually hauling things around, assembling Metro shelving racks, etc. Well, we’ll see.

I’m going to try to focus a bit more on the latter type of activity this week, or rather, the days I’m here this week, as I’m going to be in Seattle Tues – Fri for SALA (https://www.southasianliteraryassociation.org) and MLA (on a panel about Sri Lankan literature with Sugi Ganeshananthan and other fabulous folk, woot). (Seattle peeps, maybe coffee? Ping me if you’d like to buy a book for hand-delivery…although I might be temporarily out of hardcovers until the next shipment arrives; have to count.)

I’m hoping to get a LOT of writing done on the Seattle trip — some long plane flights, plus downtime in the hotel that I can treat like a little mini writing residency, when there aren’t panels I want to attend.

Two main things to work on with writing in January / February — revising and sending out some cooking essays (fingers crossed they get accepted for publication), opening up the big SF novel, re-reading the 50K drafted so far, and then launching into the next section.

Busy busy, loving my job(s). 

#serendibkitchen
#serendibgarden
#serendibhome
#marammakerspace
#slf
#sundaydinner
#allthehashtags

How-to-write-a-cookbook class

You may remember that some time back, I tried a little cookbook writing class, which I think attendees found helpful. Look at them working so hard! (We were at Oak Park Works, a local co-working space, which worked beautifully for this.) This weekend, a friend asked if I’d be teaching cooking classes again (hi, Nikhil!), which reminded me that I should schedule some of those too, while I’m scheduling the rest of the Feast events for the spring. So this is a gauge interest post! Would you be interested in:

a) local cooking classes (would love notes on what particularly you’d like to learn, i.e., basic cooking techniques, a Sri Lankan meal with appetizer / entree / dessert, a simple recipe accompanied by mimosas, etc.)

b) local how-to-write-a-cookbook class (low cost, with the option of buying my cookbook and other books)

c) online how-to-write-a-cookbook class (would need to research a bit on what format is best to offer for this — is there a class program that would make it easier than doing it via GChat, etc?)

Please comment with interest / ideas / etc! Preferred days / times of week also welcome, i.e., Sat or Sun morning or afternoon, weekday evenings, etc.

Special copies of A Feast of Serendib for my aunties

These are some special copies of A Feast of Serendib that went out last week. These were packages I put together for my aunties, all of whom have fed me over the decades. My mother’s food has most directly influenced my Sri Lankan food tastes, but all my aunties are great cooks, and they each make their dishes a little differently.

I sent some marshmallows too, in fun flavors, and a set of postcards (recipes and monkeys and elephants and such). I’m hoping they enjoyed the little presents, and are interested and amused by how my recipes differ from theirs…

Thanks, aunties / accas! Neiliya, Regina, Benita, Sherina, Terencia, Marina, Priya, and Acca-by-marriage, Nila / Dawn! Especially for all the baggies of rolls and cutlets and curries you sent home with me on the plane over the years…