The Perfect Weekend

My idea of the perfect weekend begins with this. Image

And this.

Image

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!

I digress.

Next I picked up the Sunday Magazine. It’s the third thing I read every Saturday morning. And found this: Image

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?

It was so fantastic in fact, that it made me think of what I had for lunch the day before: Image

So then it was time for lunch. And I made this: ImageNote 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:ImageNote 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.

So then I made this: Image

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: Image

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?

So before I started baking my granola I had run out to the store and gotten these: Image

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.

But the dirt on them doesn’t help anything. So it’s important to scrub it off until you can see that they are truly red beets:Image

Then do this to them: ImageRed beets bleed when you bake ’em — not in a scary way, it’s more of a beety juice thing — so be sure to wrap them in foil and put them in a baking dish, or else!

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!

So then it was time to wash the rice and set it aside: Image

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:ImageThen I took that:ImageCut one, crush the other (to bring out the flavor):ImageMince both together:ImageThen add this:ImageBut not in that shape, of course. It has to be diced like this:ImageWaaaaah! 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:ImageSpinach 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:ImageAnd sliced it up like so:ImageImageThen I heated the pan and added oil: ImageFirst the minced stuff goes in:ImageThen the diced stuff:ImageThen the sliced stuff:ImageThen the Indian-food-in-the-jar stuff:ImageStir until it looks like this:ImageSimmer for a little bit.

Add the spinach last so that it doesn’t overcook:ImageStir until the spinach is just shrunken: ImageRemove from heat immediately and serve with lots of rice:ImageWell, 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.

And here’s my beet salad (actual size, unedited):

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.

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7 thoughts on “The Perfect Weekend

    • Hi Sidney!

      I never measure anything, so here goes:

      I think it’s about 10 lbs (more?) organic rolled oats
      sliced almonds
      ground flax seed meal
      sunflower seeds
      pumpkin seeds
      sesame seeds
      a ton of ground cinnamon!

      mix above ingredients together.
      adjust quantities and varieties of nuts and seeds to your taste.

      in small sauce pan:
      olive oil
      brown sugar
      maple syrup
      almond extract

      Warm the olive oil before adding the sugar, syrup and extract. Stir together. Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

      The amount of oil/sugar/syrup/extract depends on the amount of dry ingredients you use and you can also adjust the sweetness to your liking. The wet ingredients should be just enough to make the sugar stick to the dried ingredients. For the 10 pounds of oats, I would guess that my oil is about 6 cups? And 1 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 cup maple syrup, and about a 1/4 cup almond extract. This turns out to be not too sweet.

      Spread in thin layer on baking sheet or pan.

      Bake at 275F for 30 mins. Turn over with a spoon and bake for another 30 mins.

      Cool. Add dried fruit if desired. Or add fresh fruit before serving.

      Enjoy!

      P.S. this granola is not clumpy like the store-bought kind. i think you need to add butter and a LOT more sugar to make it that way. But it’s yummier than anything i’ve found in the stores. once you make it, you’ll never go back.

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      • Ms. Look, you seem to eat a lot. Did you get anything else done? Well, I’m glad Mom got your granola recipe so she can make a lot for us.

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      • 10 lbs?! that’s like a small elephant! 🙂 thanks for the recipe.. i will try it one of these days. i’m a big fan of healthy eating. in the summer, i make the kids this green smoothie (with TONS of spinach!!) .. and they actually love it! in the winter, i make them this hot multi-grain/multi bean drink. i think my 4 year old must empathize my weirdness .. everything he eats, he always ask “is this healthy?” before eating it. 🙂

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  1. That tea is such a vibrant green! I’ve never seen a more greener cup of green tea! When I make green tea, it turns out brown. Thought maybe it is the type of tea I was using (tea green with brown roasted rice, my fav!), but have since switched to regular green tea leaves … still brown. But hopefully, the nutrients are still there?

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    • It’s Japanese green matcha tea. It’s a powder and you pour hot (not boiling) water on it. If you use green tea leaves, try using only parboiled water to avoid burning the tea, hence the brown color. But green tea with brown roasted rice (very yummy indeed!) will always be brown, i think. Hope this helps!

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