Thursday, June 14, 2012

While the Muses Snooze: New to the List

Our move to the country has been inspiring, also exhausting.  Last month these pages showed the fruits of inspiration; this month, exhaustion takes its turn.  I've been on the verge of a fresh report several times in the last couple of weeks: on a market forage that produced a terrific new vegetable, daikon flowers; on the gardens' progress, and the hay field sprouting on our hillside; on Bide-A-Wee neglected, and reclaimed; more early efforts at home cheese making; an ambitious update on how it is where we are.

It will all come.  In the meantime, I want to point out a few blogs that I've added to the "We Read These" list recently, and that you may find worth your while.  Some of these writers give whole names, some first and initial, lending the air of an AA meeting to the proceedings.  I'll identify them as they do themselves, on their blogs or Twitter accounts.

An Herbalist Eats is Jen's record of her life and eating in Fargo, ND, the Twin Cities, and in between.  I'm not sure why I find myself reading her reviews of the good, bad, and ugly of the Fargo-Moorhead restaurant scene, but it's a testament to her fresh voice and distinctive perspective that I do.  Really, she writes about whatever strikes her fancy, and it's almost always interesting.  She has what she calls a "sister blog" (not sure what that means) at Like a Fish Out of Fargo --excellent title.

Jamie Carlson is the sort of outdoorsman I hope I grow up to be.  At You Have to Cook It Right he relates his hunting, fishing, foraging, cooking and eating adventures in straightforward writing utterly free of pretension, and his cooking is ambitious, fearless, often thrilling.  I think it was his post on foraging local snails that totally won me over.

Tina T.'s Chinese preparations as described at Minneville often swoon me straight back to the time I spent in China, over 20 years ago--even though I was in Sichuan, southwest China, and her family hails from Hong Kong.  Pig's feet simmered with aromatic spices, tomato and egg, steamed eggs and shitake mushrooms--these are the sorts of dishes, exotic and comforting at the same time, that Tina writes about in a most engaging, accessible way.  She just had a baby (felicitations!), so we might not be hearing from her quite so often, but her reports will be worth the wait.

Back to the woods with Lucas Madsen, the thoughtful, literate, witty voice behind A Tenderloin Runs Through It.  This is fin, fur, 'n' feathers writing with a good deal of both soul and polish.  The topics practically beg the writer to maunder away down Cliché Lane, but Lucas blazes his own trail, to our benefit.

More ecumenical in subject matter is John Valentine's Gastrofine .  He writes of his cooking creations and other topics--his post calling out bloggers who help themselves to others' work a little too freely brought this blog to my attention.  (And it looks like he just moved from Minnesota to Massachusetts, so we'll see where that transition takes him.)

And finally, urban homesteading in Minneapolis is Jennifer Rensenbrink's subject in The New Home Economics.  Backyard gardening (she's a Master Gardener, and it shows), co-op shopping tips, thrifty yet tasty cooking, Jennifer expounds on these and other topics in sunny, intelligent prose.  (Full disclosure:  Jennifer referred to me as her "culinary hero" on Twitter, so I can't be totally objective here--flattery will get you everywhere--but if you like the other stuff on my "We Read These" list, you'll surely find her approach muy simpatico).


Maybe inspiration will return when this downpour relents, the winds abate, and these dark clouds slide on by--it's a stormy morning rumbling into afternoon here in northern Dunn.  A good time to sit down to write, what with more garden work off the table for a couple of days at least, I'd guess.

I read and hear a lot these days about how the Almighty Interwebs, in the form of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are making us (pick one or all):

1) Narcissistic
2) Lonely
3) Stupid
4) Neurotic
5) Disaffected
6) Inattentive
7) Callous
8) Fat
9) Thirsty
10) Wan

Sounds a bit like the characteristics of Bizarro-World Boy Scouts....  Personally, I think it's more a case of "Ever-So-Much-More-So"--you know, from the  Homer Price book by Robert McCloskey?--which supposedly accentuated the properties of anything it touched (like MSG...), memorbaly some already pretty delicious-looking doughnuts.  But in the end it was a snake oil/emperor's new clothes/placebo effect situation--which is to say:  all in our heads, what we want to believe, what we say something is versus what it really is (which is...?).  I think all the punditry about the social effects of the Internet will turn out to be much the same, same as it ever was, same as it ever was....  In the four plus years I've been writing Trout Caviar (and particularly since the book came out) I have met, virtually and actually, a lot of really cool, fun, smart, inspiring people via blog-, Facebook-, and Twitter-world.  Luddite that I am, I'm amazed to be saying that.  I'll take it a step further:  my life would be greatly different and, I think, poorer, were it not for this PC in front of which I sit, and the connections that flow from it out into the great wide world.  There's a saying that really annoys a good friend of mine, so I say it to her as often as I can:  It is what it is.  But it's actually not what it is; it's what we make of it.  So I believe.  That perspective puts us a little bit in control of our situation, whatever else may be true.

Take a click and make some new virtual friends.  Bak sun!


Atenderloin said...

To mentioned in such company... wow. Thanks again, Brett!

s said...

Great reads, thanks for the links. Also, I love the "Bizarro-World Boy Scouts" idea! :)