After breakfast I always sit with a cup of green tea and the Book Review first to see if one of my books is there, just in case. They had mentioned my first book, LOVE AS STRONG AS GINGER, when it it came out in 1999. So it could happen again any time. You never know. When you’re an author, your heart is filled with hope. You hope to write a great book. You hope readers will love you. You hope to have a snaky autograph line at the bookstore. You hope your hand won’t fall off from signing a sqillion books. You hope to be reviewed by your local paper. So my heart jackhammers like crazy every Saturday morning when I get my hands on that Book Review, especially when they have a Special Children’s Book section.
But there was no special section today, there wasn’t even a children’s review. Alas, no mention of my books. Not one. Worse, all the reviews were on politics and politicians, which as you know, are the grown-ups who like to be bossy, and politics is a fancy word for the way they fight.
So I chucked it.
And turned to the Travel pages. It’s the order in which I read the Sunday paper. Books first. Travel second. On the front page was a special double feature (like those at the cinema in the old days — not when I was a kid, but before that) on Rome. Fancy Rome vs. Frugal Rome. Oh, how I love Rome! Rome is magical. Rome has the best granita outside of Sicily. Roma has the best pizza outside of Napoli. I would live in Rome if I could and eat pizza and granita all day and sit on the Spanish Steps and throw coins into the Fontana Trevi and fill my eyes with the golden light in San Andreas. La mia citta preferita!
An interview with one of my favorite authors! His new book just came out. Normally, I don’t read grown-up books, but I make an exception for Junot Diaz. His metaphors are titanic explosions, the kind that crater the earth, that calve glaciers, and that re-wire your brain. Reading him is like taking a super vitamin for thinking. But he uses a lot of bad words and I don’t recommend him for young readers, but when you’re older, and you want to see a master of metaphor at work, then read him.
Then I noticed that the entire magazine is THE INSPIRATION ISSUE, WHERE DO CREATIVE IDEAS START?
WOW! I could hardly believe it! What better way to start a weekend?
So then it was time for lunch. And I made this: Note the sesame salt. It’s very yummy. My friend Noriko told me about it and I ran out right away and got some and now I put it on practically everything!
But when you’re an author, two eggs and a couple of sesame seeds aren’t enough for anything. So I added this:Note the fresh, homemade strawberry jam from my friend Vivian. Mmmm! THANK YOU, VIVIAN, I’m still enjoying your jam from May!
When you’re an author, it’s very important to feed your brain not only with good reading, but with good food. This is because your brain is like a hybrid engine. It needs electricity (inspiration) as well as gas (grub).
And it takes about a sqillion calories to write a book, I’m sure of it.
To be quite honest, I was still hungry after I ate everything in the above photo plus a drink.
My famous homemade granola! It’s very yummy. It’s good with milk or on top of yogurt. It’s also good plain. I like to eat it dry on the spoon while I’m writing, that way I don’t splash milk all over my keyboard and then have to bring it into the Apple store and explain to the genius that my laptop isn’t working but I have no idea why and could they please fix it ASAP because I can’t live without my computer or I’ll die.
Anyway, my granola has all sorts of things in it that are good for brain function: seeds, oats, nuts, cinnamon, oil, etc. If you don’t believe me, read this. When you’re an author, it’s important to make enough brainy snack food for the afternoon so that you don’t go hungry when you’re writing:
Of course, I can never bake anything in my oven without baking something else too. I mean the oven is quite roomy, and it uses a lot of electricity, so you might as well bake everything all at once, right?
Red beets! They’re yummy in a salad with arugula, dried cranberries, feta cheese and pecans. If you had clicked on the above article, you would know that they contain phenylalanine that is used to produce dopamine that helps the neurotransmitters in your brain.
My home was beginning to smell like cinnamon and red beets. Mmmmm!
It smelled so good I could hardly concentrate. All I could think about was food.
But all I was eating was dry granola on a spoon. Crunch, crunch, crunch. All afternoon.
Granola takes a long time to bake. You have to bake it at a low temperature so that it doesn’t burn. That much granola takes two days!
It’s the secret weapon of smart Asians everywhere. If you want to be smart or Asian, eat rice. That’s why your mum makes you eat every grain. She may have also told you that it needs to soak for at least half an hour before cooking. This way you get separate kernels instead of mush. Listen to your mum.
But half an hour is a long time to wait when you’re starving.
Actually, it was half an hour before I could push the button on the rice cooker to cook the rice.
It would be another half hour before the rice is done.
Altogether it was another hour before I could have dinner!
I didn’t feel so good.
I had to take to my bed momentarily.
When you’re an author, you have to take your nutrition seriously. You can’t just eat granola all day. If you do, you’ll end up having to lie down. If you lie at 7:30 p.m., you will be up all night. Everyone knows that!
So I popped out of bed and hurried back to my kitchen before I felt any worse.
First I took this:Then I took that:Cut one, crush the other (to bring out the flavor):Mince both together:Then add this:But not in that shape, of course. It has to be diced like this:Waaaaah! Oops! I forgot to push the button on my rice maker! Now that’s really something to cry about. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Then trim and WASH this, and I do mean WASH in bold caps:Spinach grows in sandy soil as you know, and sand has no nutritional value to authors. To crabs, maybe, to authors, none. But if you’re a crabby author … adding a little sand to your diet ….
Then I took this out:And sliced it up like so:Then I heated the pan and added oil: First the minced stuff goes in:Then the diced stuff:Then the sliced stuff:Then the Indian-food-in-the-jar stuff:Stir until it looks like this:Simmer for a little bit.
Add the spinach last so that it doesn’t overcook:Stir until the spinach is just shrunken: Remove from heat immediately and serve with lots of rice:Well, that’s not so much rice. It’s the edited version. I wanted to make it look like a plate in a fancy restaurant where the more you pay, the less you eat, so that you would think I knew something about fancy restaurants. But I heaped on the rice (it’s an Asian thing) after I took the photo so that you wouldn’t see how horribly malnourished and close to death I was after eating granola all day. I didn’t want to scare you.
I didn’t have any pecans, so I used almonds.
(I made the bowl on a different day.)
When you’re an author, reading the paper and cooking all day is the perfect weekend.