Gormenghast, sourdough, and smoothie recipes

July 26, 2007

So I’m shelving Shakespeare for now. The Two Gentlemen of Verona just isn’t grabbing me at the moment, and my blitzkrieg detour through HP7 has me in the mood for more fantasy. I’ve resume reading Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books. I read Titus Groan last year some time, and found it to be one of those books that was somehow unsettling on completion, but which nevertheless sort of remained in the back of my mind for some time afterwards. Peake has a marvelous way with imagery, to say nothing of his character names (which owe much to his devotion to Dickens). What’s not to like about a book featuring one Irma Prunesquallor? Excerpt:

Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls. They sprawled over the sloping earth, each one half way over its neighbour until, held back by the castle ramparts, the innermost of these hovels laid hold on the great walls, clamping themselves thereto like limpets to a rock. These dwellings, by ancient law, were granted this chill intimacy with the stronghold that loomed above them. Over their irregular roofs would fall throughout the seasons, the shadows of time-eaten buttresses, of broken and lofty turrets, and, most enormous of all, the shadow of the Tower of Flints. This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.

More, including a dramatis personae, here.

Lurking on metafilter recently, I saw someone recommending Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which has intrigued me since I first saw it in the bookstore. Maybe after Peake.

Yesterday, Ezmerelda and all the little hobbits went a-visiting another homeschooling family in the area and came back with stories about the acreage, horses and – mirabile dictu – a batch of sourdough starter. My previous attempt at sourdough was not so successful, even though it’s supposed to be largely idiot-proof. Make of that what you will. We fed the starter and it’s now in our fridge, hopefully growing into a yeasty monster.

Recent rains seem to have brought the frogs back – I heard them as I was driving home from the grocery store late last night. I’ve also seen some, er, rather flat ones in the road near the house, so I’ve been keeping my eyes open when driving around in the dark.

I’ve cut back on riding a wee bit, more out of time considerations than anything else – I go in the mornings at sunrise, and have been running around after getting home to get ready for work. Route is holding steady at just under 16 miles (I’d recently upped it to 18). Still seeing critters: a dozen or more deer the other day, including two large bucks with impressive racks. Flock of turkeys: 3 adults and 13 little ones, and the usual collection of buntings, goldfinches, bluebirds and kingbirds.  Also huge clouds of gnats. Bleah.

Here’s my breakfast smoothie recipe, for no real good reason.

  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup of fruit (we’ve been buying mixed frozen berries at the store)
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1 package of Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • Milk for consistency/texture

Pulverize and drink. We use a Sunbeam hand-mixer which works quite well. Since Ezmerelda is still nursing, she has to watch her dairy intake – her smoothies substitute orange juice for milk. I’ve been pricing soy protein mixes and some of the other nutritional supplements at the store. The instant breakfast mix always seems to come out cheapest, and it’s tasty, though it probably has more sugar than is necessary. There are also some interesting suggestions here, a few of which I’ll probably try.

Not the tuna one, though. Oofah.

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