Talk me Down

Okay, folks, I’m starting to feel a little stressed about my live cooking segment on TV this Sunday morning. Talk me down, because being prepared is the best way I know to battle this kind of imposter syndrome and anxiety.

Give me your best tips for being on TV, what should I do to prepare, etc. and so on. I assume starving myself for three days so I might look marginally thinner is not a good option, so skip that, but anything else? Help.

I’m already thinking I set up the kitchen in advance, with the iPad on its new stand, have Kavi or Kevin record (whichever one I’m going to make get up with me on Sunday morning at 7 a.m.), and do a test run?


• get groceries
• cook dishes that will be accompanying kale sambol I’m actually cooking (Sri Lankan red rice + basmati, either beef and potato curry or beef smoore, maybe a carrot curry? Trying to think of dishes that will look pretty on a plate, but also taste good together.)
• color hair (I’m thinking blue!)

• decide on clothes (I’m probably wearing a bright blue top, possibly with a grey short-sleeve cardigan, and small gold earrings. I think I’m reasonably settled on that.)
• do test run with tech, and in the process:
• make a finished version of the kale sambol to display in case the 4 minutes of time runs tight
• clean kitchen
• plug in iPad, make sure it’s charged

Sunday morning:
– awake by 6 a.m.
– do hair and make-up
– prep chopped kale, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, so I don’t have to chop it all live
– dress in clean clothes
– set up iPad / stand, lighting if needed
– 7:35 — call in. go, go, go.

Offering Two Classes at Fiberworld

Hey, so I’m a little slow on posting about this, sorry! But I’m going to be offering two classes at Fiberworld. I’ll also be doing a talk on South Asian textile arts (intro-level, as I’m no expert!), a poetry reading, and hosting their fashion show. Will be fun. 

Thursday Aug 20, 3-5 p.m. EDT: Knitted Sweets — Featuring knit & crochet cookies and knit chocolate bars, we’ll show you how to use embossed rollers and molds to make fun textile-inspired treats for your next stitch-and-bitch, or just to enjoy at home.

Friday Aug 21, 3-5 p.m. EDT: Sewing the Deaconess-Style Pleated Face Mask — Bring your sewing machine, fabric, and tools if you want to sew along with us, or just come watch as we talk and walk through the steps for creating a mask with two layers of 100% cotton, a sewn-in layer of filter fabric, and a metal nose piece.

(Not sure of the time of this one yet.)
South Asian Textile Arts

Mary Anne presents an introduction to a few elements of South Asian textile arts. She’ll start with kantha stitching: similar to sashiko in appearance, traditional Bengali kantha embroidery uses a simple running stitch to bind light pieces of cotton together, traditionally used to salvage old cotton saris and turn them into lightweight throws, cushions, and more. Bring an embroidery needle, some floss, and some scrap pieces of cotton if you’d like to stitch along as Mary Anne demonstrates how she salvages remnants of mask fabric and transforms them into charming bookmarks.

She’ll also show you some variations on traditional woven sari fabrics (including colorblocked handloomed Sri Lankan saris from her homeland), and discuss some aspects of what’s involved in bringing traditional South Asian motifs into your textile work, such as knit and crocheted designs.


Class pricing and convention registration at the Fiberworld site. Register here:

Brave New World

One thing that I’ve been struggling with is how much sheer time editing video and audio takes. I pay Darius, who does the first pass on editing, then for the cooking videos, both Stephanie and I review the edited version, and there usually are little clean-up things to add, so I don’t want to skip that step. But it takes a little time. One video / week, usually under 30 minutes, so not too bad, but still.

And for the MRAH podcast, again, Darius does the first pass, but then I’m the one doing the second. And I don’t want to skip that. Even if I left it to Darius to figure out where good break points would be in the episode (because Benjamin and I often record for 2 hours, and that’s a LONG time, so we’re planning to break episodes into part 1, part 2, etc.), he really can’t easily do the annotating.

That part’s important to me — when we mention books, authors, genre conventions, etc. and so on, I want to be sure the show notes are linking to all of those correctly; it’s particularly important because all of this will become part of the Portolan Project too, and will be, I think, useful to people studying SF (either as creative writers or as literature).

So I have to put in the time, which means recording the podcast takes about 3 hours on Sunday morning for the recording, and then at least 3 hours to annotate it. That’s a LOT of time.

I did figure out that it worked okay to review a cooking video while cutting mask fabric, which is more efficient than my watching soap-y Private Practice re-runs (don’t ask why I’ve somehow ended up watching this at the end of this pandemic summer, I think I just wanted to gaze at pretty people making way too much angst for themselves and turn off my brain).

It’s a little tricky, though, because I do have to keep at least glancing at the screen, to make sure that the little measurement notes and such that Darius adds in are accurate. It may work better for editing podcasts, which is the real time-sink right now.

No real conclusions, just noting that editing text is a LOT FASTER than editing audio / video. Brave new world. 

Little Free Pantry

Still thinking about the Little Free Pantry we’re setting up by our garage. I think I’ve talked before about how I get a little squirrelly about having lots of food on me when I’m flying? That comes directly from the one time when I got stuck on the tarmac for several hours; hunger pangs you can’t address are weirdly panic-making, even when you know you’re not actually in any real danger. Ever since, I’ve generally carried a day’s worth of power bars and such with me while traveling.

It makes me similarly crazy when I think there might be people on my block who are hungry. I mean, I spent years writing a cookbook, people. Feeding people is intensely important to me, in a way I find hard to explain.

I had one bad summer after college, where I went to job interview after job interview, and I just couldn’t find a job, not even temp. secretarial work. The economy was bad, and there were no jobs to be had. I once dodged my landlord in the street — I literally ducked into an alley when I saw him coming, because I hadn’t paid rent in two months. There was a month or so that summer when I mostly lived on 20 cent packets of ramen, because that’s all I could afford.

I was never really poor, to be clear — I could’ve called my parents, I had friends with money who would’ve loaned me a $20 to get through the week, etc. I had resources available to me, in a way the truly poor don’t. But I had credit card debt I didn’t know how I would ever pay off, and I was broke enough to be a little scared.

And it’s one thing to be a 20-something in that position; my body could handle living on cheap ramen for a month. I’m sitting here in my writing shed with a lovely garden view. But there are apartment buildings right next to our house, and I can’t stand the thought that there might be a parent in there who’s been out of work for months, and now can’t afford nutritious groceries for their kids.

Okay. The pantry is set up, we have our monthly donations to Beyond Hunger in place. Sitting here fretting isn’t helping anyone. Going back to work now.

Functional and Charming

One more batch of madeleines for the treat boxes. I’m experimenting with different types of packaging, and I really like these little waxed paper bags. $7 for a 100 4×6 bags; good deal. Functional and charming. 

I had some extra melted chocolate at the end, so went ahead and dipped half a box of strawberries in there. Such an easy way to surprise and delight the family.

“Are those strawberries for us???”

Yes, yes they are.

Easy Way to Feed the Kids

Lots of posting this morning, but now I’m going to turn off FB for a while and try to write. I leave you with a one-pot dish — take my Sri Lankan ginger-garlic chicken, cook it most of the way, add 1-2 cups of water, bring to a boil, dump in a bunch of leftover takeout rice, cook the water out, taste and add more salt if needed, stir in some frozen peas.

Easy way to feed the kids around here and also to use up leftover rice that’s starting to get dry. 

Another Swing-and-a-Miss

This is another swing-and-a-miss. I like my chocolate-spiced cookies; the hint of cayenne brings out the chocolate beautifully, and the dough takes embossing well, letting me have fun with decorating. But they’re a little plain, and they seemed to be crying out to become sandwich cookies. I could’ve gone with an Oreo-type filling, which honestly would likely have worked better, but I thought a mango filling would taste even better with the chocolate and cayenne. So far so good…

…but I had some homemade mango curd left in the fridge, and I think that’s where my frugal instincts betrayed me, because I tried to make that into a filling, mixing it with confectioner’s sugar and melted butter. It tastes nice, but it was just too goopy, my friends. If you refrigerate it for an hour, and then pull it out to serve, I think you’d be okay for a bit, but after 30 minutes, it’d soften so much that it’d be squishing out filling with every bite, which not ideal.

Back to the drawing board — I need to figure out a good mango cream filling from scratch, instead of attempting a false economy. Can do. (I wonder if I can use amchur powder to get strong mango flavor, without the moisture of the mangoes themselves? Hmm….)

A Qualified Success

Hm. I’m going to call this recipe a qualified success. I went looking for lemon bars with cashew and coconut, because I thought that might be nice, and I found this recipe, which I think might actually be gluten-free, as the entire base is just cashew, coconut, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. That part is pretty yummy.

The lemon bit, though, tastes…healthy? Even though I upped the honey from what they suggested. I mean, it’s nice, and both Kavi and Kevin said it was good too, and we’ve certainly been eating them, so I guess if you want a healthy-dish lemony snack, this is a good option.

But when I want a lemon bar, I don’t usually want something that’s good for me, you know? I want a puckeringly sour, but also beautifully sweet dessert, and this isn’t that. I think I’m going to try again, probably marrying elements of this crust (which I really did like) with a completely different lemon bar for the filling. Interesting.