Thursday, July 29, 2010

Popgun, Fierce Fun, and Twithulhu

Hey, so congratulations to D. J. Kirkbride, Adam P. Knave, and lots of other people who I'm not friends with (yet?!) who worked on Image comics' Popgun Volume 3 for winning a freakin' Eisner award this past weekend. (All I did this weekend was throw a party, discover what's potentially a watermelon plant growing in the middle of the front lawn, and fail at making creme caramel. I feel relatively unproductive.) This is what the cover of Popgun Volume 3 (with art by Tara McPherson) looks like:

popgun volume 3 cover

And this is what a link to a place where you can purchase it looks like:

Holy whoa, a link!

I've been busy these past couple weeks working with Adam on his upcoming book, I Slept With Your Imaginary Friend, which'll be a compilation of essays and short fiction. And on a few different projects with Fierce Fun Toys, which is growing and learning and sneezing and hiccuping and, yes, still occasionally farting.

Oh, and Adam & I did another episode of Consumerism WOW, hosted on his blog this month:

Thing #2

Lauren: I… I don’t want any of the Elder Gods using Twitter. It’s bad enough as it is! I mean. ReTweets and pronfollows and foursquare are enough to drive anyone mad already. Are you one of Twithulhu’s cultists? Is that why you want this shirt? Fess up.

Adam: Cultist is such a strong word. We prefer “Empire-Building Joy Minion” these days. Besides when Twithulhu comes and devours the souls of everyone on twitter who will notice?

Click through to Adam's blog to see the rest! [The Twithulhu shirt is a special edition that might disappear forever at the end of July, so order one now if you like it! And order this one in medium if you're getting one for me. (Merely a suggestion!)]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

review: siggi's pomegranate & passion fruit skyr yogurt

A quick sequel to my review of siggi's orange & ginger skyr yogurt:siggi's pomegranate passion fruit skyr yogurt container

I tried a cup of siggi's pomegranate & passion fruit flavor, which has a gram more sugar than the orange & ginger flavor (bringing it to a still-teensy 11 grams total) but just as much protein (a Juggernauty 16 grams). For that one gram of additional sugar and a lack of woody ginger bits, the pomegranate & passion fruit skyr is much less aggressive and more to my tastes than the orange & ginger was. The sour of the fruits in this one blend just perfectly with the (still quite strong!) sour of the yogurt.

The passion fruit is the more forward of the two fruit flavors, and it's very bright on the tongue. (The taste reminds me -- and forgive me this analogue, I blame the '80s -- of the scent of Hawaiian Punch.) That brightness compliments the thickness of the yogurt, making it feel a bit lighter than the orange & ginger did. Not having any bits or pieces of fruit mixed in with the yogurt helps as well, allowing a creamy mouthfeel. (Pro-tip: If you find this yogurt grainy when you first open it, let it sit out for ten minutes or so. As it warms up, the milk solids relax and it becomes more smooth.)

Overall, the orange & ginger flavor reminded me of something sturdy. Like drywall. The pomegranate & passion fruit is much more friendly -- more luxurious [and for $2.50 or more per cup, I want to be pampered, not spanked (personal preference)] and dangerously seductive, budgetarily speaking -- I'm going to be craving these bright flavors again soon. If you're going to plunk down the cash to try siggi's, I'd highly recommend this flavor.

Friday, July 16, 2010

kickstarter and cobbler

My musically inclined friend Juliana, who also blogs at and Bear & Honey's Clueless To-Do List, is working on 2 new albums! They're going to be seasonally themed sorts of things, which -- I tell you in case you're unaware that Juliana is an incarnate of Mama Nature via a) the 80s and b) the Internet -- is highly appropriate.

Juliana Finch in Piedmont Park
She's using the faboo to raise funds, and you should toss monies her way 'cause I really want to hear what she's working on. Erm. And for other, less monkey-serving purposes as well (I guess), like "advancing the arts" or "I want advance-release copies of the albums and/or an in-home concert for myself." You can sample and purchase her previous EP and LP on CD Baby (I particularly recommend "Rattlesnake" from How to Take the Fall), though donating 25 bux on Kickstarter will earn you both of those AND both of the new albums once she's all funded and finished. Just sayin'.

In baking news, I've been making all the cobbler lately -- cherry, blackberry, and peach in just the past two weeks. I think the peach was the most successful -- I grated a maybe 1/4 tsp of nutmeg over the peaches and added maybe 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract while they were mascerating, and yeah. Heavenly.

peach cobbler, with a biscuit in the shape of a star
I've been using a bottom crust from smittenkitchen's apple tart and a biscuit topping (with hard-boiled egg yolks instead of raw!) from her rhubarb cobbler. My only advice if you try this is to prepare a LOT of fruit -- ~3 quarts of cherries, blackberries, or other things that come in quarts, or at least 10 peaches or other pieces of single-serving fruit. Just mascerate whatever fruit you're using in 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar (depending on the natural sweetness of the fruit) while your crust & biscuits are chilling, then assemble, bake, and feel like a rockstar.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

recipes: lemon curd and a mango-blackberry tart

Did I mention that I have the best (if slightly self-serving) group of friends ever in the whole Universe?

This was my birthday present. (Thank you, friends!) Having it makes me unafraid of pastry dough for the first time ever, and being unafraid of pastry dough makes it necessary for me to stock lemon curd.

If you've never had lemon curd, it's a bit like a tart citrus version of apple butter -- or like a creamy marmalade minus the bits of rind. It plays with sour-sweet flavors, has a pudding-smooth texture, and is terrific as a spread on toast, waffles, pancakes, muffins, or other breakfast/brunch baked goods -- or it can be used as a filling or glaze for cakes, cupcakes, or dessert pastry. I love tart flavors and generally prefer less sweet desserts, so I think it should be used in all of the above pretty much all the time.

I made a batch of lemon curd a couple weeks ago, meaning to spread a layer of it atop the crust and beneath the fruit (i.e., mascerated mangoes and fresh blackberries) in a pastry based on smitten kitchen's simplest apple tart.* In my pastry-assembling excitement I completely forgot to put the lemon curd in, but I melted 2 tablespoons of lemon curd plus 1 tablespoon of butter to brush over the crust & filling instead of just butter, which worked wonderfully. It was so successful, in fact, that I also forgot to take any pictures of it. I fail as a food pr0nographer.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from Haalo of Cook [Almost] Anything at Least Once, who got it from Stephanie Alexander.
Makes ~12 oz. of lemon curd


4 egg yolks
3/4 cup (150 grams) white granulated sugar, the finer-grained the better (but plain ol' sugar is okay too)

5 tbsp butter (70 grams)
7 tbsp lemon juice (~3.4 oz., or 100 mls, or ~3 lemons' worth)


Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and blend on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture has lightened to a cream color.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium-low heat, then add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Stir a couple tablespoons of the hot liquid into the yolk & sugar mixture to temper it, then add the yolks & sugar to the saucepan. Whisk constantly until the mixture just reaches a boil (~10 minutes or so, depending on how hot your stove runs), at which point the lemon curd will thicken sort of drastically and separate a bit, turning a brighter yellow underneath a layer of cream/foam.

If you happen to have the equipment and wherewithal to sterilize and seal jars, you could jar the lemon curd and store it at room temperature for up to 3 months until opened, at which point it should be kept in the fridge (for up to 4 weeks). If, like me, you're better with Tupperware than boiled glass, just seal it up and pop it straight into the fridge. It'll need to sit awhile to set to its proper, jellylike firmness.

I plan to experiment with making all sorts of other fruit curds using this recipe by simply swapping out the juice and adjusting the sugar content -- if you happen to try making any other flavors, let me know how it goes!

*Simpleish Mango & Blackberry Tart
Adapted from Deb of smitten kitchen, who got it from Alice Waters.
Serves 6-8

Follow Deb's excellent instructions on making and refrigerating the tart's crust. In addition to that, you'll need:


4 large red/green mangoes (or ~8 smaller yellow [champagne] mangoes)
1/3 cup white granulated sugar (I'd try less, maybe 1/4 cup, with the yellow mangoes)
At least a half-pint of blackberries (or your other berry of choice)
~4 tbsp prepared lemon curd (optional)

2 tbsp butter (or 1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp lemon curd)
2 tbsp turbinado/raw granulated sugar (optional but very pretty -- white sugar would work fine too)


While the crust is chilling, cut your mangoes into cubes, and stir your sugar into the cubes. Let the cubes sit for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally to redistribute the mango in the syrup. This is called masceration, and it'll help break down the stringiness of the mango and work some of the moisture out of fruit so that you don't wind up with an overly soggy pastry crust.

Once the mango is mascerating, rinse and dry a pint of blackberries. You could also use blueberries, or slice some strawberries into vertical quarters -- use whatever's ripe and sweet and readily available. (You may end up only using a half-pint, so if you're on a budget you could buy less berries -- I just like having extra around to make up for inevitable berry loss due to over-ripeness and snacking.)

When the pastry dough is chilled and the mangoes are mascerated, get out two clean bowls. Use one to drain the mango syrup into (through a fine mesh sieve if you've got a big one, or through a pasta strainer or even a slotted spoon in a pinch) and the second to hold the drained mango pieces. Butter and flour an ~9-inch tart or pie pan (with a removable bottom, preferably), and roll the dough out to ~4 inches in diameter larger than your pan. (I always get lazy when I'm rolling dough out, but you want to roll it enough so it'll come up over the sides of the pan by at least an inch.) Drape the dough into the pan, gently tucking it down into the corners of the pan and letting the edges hang over the sides. Get your oven heating to 400 F.

If you've made a batch of lemon curd, try spreading maybe 4 tablespoons across the crust with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Arrange the mango pieces evenly in the crust -- it's okay if you don't have quite enough to fill it. (If you didn't use the lemon curd, you could use a couple tablespoons of the mango syrup to help fill in any gaps.) Spangle the tart with the berries, then fold the loose edges of the crust over the filling. It doesn't need to look perfect -- rustic and tasty is what you're going for with this thing.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter (or 1 tablespoon each of butter and lemon curd) and spread it over the edges of the crust and the top of the fruit with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the crust if you wanna make it extra pretty.

Pop the tart in the oven for 30 minutes, coming back to rotate it every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. Mango and berries don't need all that long to bake, so really you're just looking for the filling to be bubbly and the crust to reach a nice, rich golden brown. Once it's out, let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then slice and serve -- whip cream wouldn't go awry with it, but I think it stands really well on its own. If you happen to have any left over, wrap it loosely and refrigerate it. It should keep for 2 to 3 days.