29 June 2009

Review: The Accidental by Ali Smith

I haven't got a particularly interesting story about how I came to read Ali Smith's The Accidental. I've never read any of her novels or stories before and I only got the book because it was free in a Buy 3 Get 1 Free sale. I couldn't find a fourth book I was interested in, but this one had a cover that reminded me of the cover of Jeffery Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides, so why not?

It's quite likely that if I'd known more or if I'd skimmed or read the first few pages that I'd have given the entire thing a miss. I can't decide if that would have been a good thing or not. Probably not.

The Accidental tells the story of the Smart family – mother Eve, step-father Michael, children Astrid and Magnus – while they spend a summer in Norfolk, where Eve intends to write her next novel. A strange woman, Amber, appears one day and, each of the adults believing the other knows her, no one questions her presence until her strange behaviour begins to cross uncomfortable boundaries and change every member of the family.

Although I generally only quote one opening paragraph, for the sake of showing the book's format, I'm going to use a bit from each of the members of the Smart family.

Opening paragraph, Astrid:
The Beginning
of things – when is it exactly? Astrid Smart wants to know. (Astrid Smart. Astrid Berenski. Astrid Smart. Astrid Berenski.) 5.04 a.m. on the substandard clock radio. Because why do people always say the day starts now? Really it starts in the middle of the night at a fraction of a second past midnight. But it's not supposed to have begun until the dawn, really the dark is still last night and it isn't morning until the light, though actually it was morning as soon as it was even a fraction of a second past twelve i.e. that experiment where you divide something down and down like the distance between the ground and a ball that's been bounced on it so that it can be proved, Magnus says, that the ball never actually touches the ground. Which is junk because of course it touches the ground, otherwise how would it bounce, it wouldn't have anything to bounce
off, but it can actually be proved by science that it doesn't.
Opening paragraph, Magnus:
the beginning of this = the end of everything. He was part of the equation. They took her head. They fixed it on the other body. Then they sent it round everybody's email. Then she killed herself.

That noise outside is birds. It is swifts. They are making their evening noise. Birds are pointless now. Everything is pointless. They took her head. They put it on the other body. They sent it round the email list. Then she killed herself.
Opening paragraph, Michael:
the beginning again!
Extraordinary. Life never stopped being glorious, a glorious surprise, a glorious renewal all over again. Like new. No, not just like new but really new, actually new. Metaphor not simile. No
like between him and the word new. Who'd have believed it? That woman, Amber, had just pushed her plate away, pushed her chair back, long-limbed and insouciant and insolent as a girl, and had stood up and left the table, left the room, and Michael, now that all that was opposite him was her empty chair, could stop, breathe out, wonder whether Eve, who was scraping at breadcrumbs with her napkin, if she looked up, say she looked up and looked him straight in the face, would see the surprise of it written all over him. His face would have that astonished look more usually found on the face of a soprano hitting a high perfected oh.
Opening paragraph, Eve:
the beginning was keeping her awake. She by far preferred the edit, the end, where the work in the dark was over and you could cut and cut until you saw the true shape of things emerge.
Where was Eve, exactly? Eve was lying in bed in this too-dark, too-hot room, completely awake in the middle of the night, next to Michael completely asleep with his head under his pillow.
No other reason she couldn't sleep? No.
Honestly? Well. That girl of Michael's was a little distracting.
The idea of the story, the actual story is quite fascinating, though I don't quite want to say what happens or why its so interesting. The entire effect of the novel would be lost if a reader came into it knowing what will happen. Getting to that point, seeing how Amber slithers into their lives and changes every one of them, is so frustrating that I very nearly gave up on the book in the very first chapter, when Astrid's thoughts are running the show.

As you can see in each of the openings I posted, each section is written in a kind of stream-of-consciousness style, so that you're dropped right into the thoughts of each of the characters. And oh god, the tedium, the mundanity, the repetition, the way they circle around from one thought to the next and back again… ugh. It made me want to scream. (I was amused by Eve, who thinks very often in interview format, which is something I sometimes do when I'm inward-bound.) Later on, there is even poetry from Michael. Just… frustrating to read. To say the least of it.

And yet… the story slithered into my mind the same way Amber slipped into the Smart's lives, pushing in just the right ways and taking root without my noticing it was happening. For that reason, it's not an easy story to forget, even though I want to forget the voices that it's told in. There's something mysterious about it that makes you want to peel back the layers and reexamine everything to see what you've missed, to see if Amber gave anything away.

But then again, no, I probably won't read it again, because I don't want to slog through the thought of these people. It's enough to live in my own head without having to live in four of theirs as well.

Ali Smith has written several collections of short stories, including Free Love and Other Stories and Other Stories and Other Stories, as well as several novels including most recently Girl Meets Boy. The Accidental was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2006 and the Man Booker Prize in 2005 (as was her earlier novel Hotel World) and won the Whitbread Novel Award in 2005. Ali Smith's website cannot be found at alismith.org (though art by an American Ali Smith can be) and if she's got one, I've not found it.

Smith, Ali. The Accidental. Toronto: Penguin, 2006.
Finished: 03 June 2009
Rating: 3 of 5 recordings of sunrises
This was my 1st book in June and my 18th in 2009.

*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.

Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

I've been trying for two weeks to write a review of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, but I invariably wind up with three pages that say nothing at all. Then I start over and the same thing happens again. It's driving me a little bit mad.

The book is a children's or young adult adventure novel with elements of detective fiction and science fiction. It's a kind of hybrid I suppose. It's a bit young for young adult but too convoluted for children's fiction. It doesn't really feel like an adventure novel, but the four main characters go on a quest that leads them through all sorts of dangers and tests of their abilities.

To say more about the story itself, though: the four main characters – Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire are the only children smart and lucky enough to pass a series of tests designed to find gifted children "looking for special opportunities." The special opportunity, it turns out, is a chance to act as spies for Mr Benedict at The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. Mr Benedict believes that the institute is the front for a dastardly plot by the evil Mr Curtain to bring down the government and seize control for himself. Because only children can attend the institute, the gifted children's abilities have to complement on another; where one child is weak, another is strong.

Opening paragraph:
In a city called Stonetown, near a port called Stonetown Harbor, a boy named Reynie Muldoon was preparing to take an important test. It was the second test of the day – the first had been in an office across town. After that one he was told to come here, to the Monk Building on Third Street, and to bring nothing but a single pencil and a single rubber eraser, and to arrive no later than one o'clock. If he happened to be late, or bring two pencils, or forget his eraser, or in any other way deviate from the instructions, he would not be allowed to take the test and that would be that. Reynie, who very much wanted to take it, was careful to follow the instructions. Curiously enough, these were the only ones given. He was not told how to get to the Monk Building, for example, and had found it necessary to ask directions to the nearest bus stop, acquire a schedule from a dishonest bus driver who tried to trick him into paying for it, and walk several blocks to catch the Third Street bus. Not that any of this was difficult for Reynie Muldoon. Although he was only eleven years old, he was quite used to figuring things out for himself.
The trouble I have in writing about this book is that although I enjoyed it a lot, there are a great many things I didn't like. In order to get a handle on that, I decided to read some other reviews that people have written about the book, but I found myself agreeing as much with the 5 star reviews as the 2 star ones. Sigh. What to say?

I enjoyed the story and the characters very much, but had serious reservations about both. The story is in many ways completely absurd, the characters (at least the bad ones) often one-note. The ending is tied up with the prettiest of happy-ending bows. It's a fun story, so long as you don't think too hard about it.

Trenton Lee Stewart is the author of two already published books in the Mysterious Benedict Society series with a third forthcoming this year. He's also published another book called Flood Summer, which I believe is adult literature. If he has a website, I haven't found it.

Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. New York: Little, Brown, 2008.
Finished: 21 June 2009
Rating: 3 of 5 rules (but there are no rules)
This was my 3rd book in June and my 20th in 2009.

*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I pretty well always like young adult fantasy. Even though they're often very predictable, adventure stories are just fun. So the entertainment value is high and they let me indulge in the things I like about all fantasy – world creation, interesting magic (even if it's not called that), even the comfort of archetypal characters and the tropes of the genre and seeing them played with – without the things I don't like about adult fantasy – mainly women who exist as sex objects or not at all. I'm sure there are heaps of adult fantasy books I'd like if I read them, but I can't bear to weed through the crap to find them.

I've gotten so that I don't know where to start with young adult fantasy either. So many compare themselves (through blurbs on the covers) with Harry Potter, which is lazy and tells me nearly nothing – kids will triumph over evil and magic will be involved. So, you know, suggestions are always welcome.

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan was recommended to me by a good friend who'd picked up the first book while looking for something light-hearted and fun, without too many depressing elements. The first book, The Lightning Thief, fits the bill pretty closely.

Opening paragraph:
Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.

If you're reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life.

Being a half-blood is dangerous. It's scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways.
Like a great many young adult adventure series, The Lightning Thief begins when a 12 year old boy, Percy Jackson, discovers that he's not quite a normal boy and that there is a whole other world hidden from outsiders, a world of magic and monsters and fights for power. As it turns out, Percy is the son of a mortal woman and a Greek god, one of the Olympians who still hold power, even if they're only thought of as myths. Percy, and other "half-bloods", is trained to be heroes, performing quests, following the whims and wars of these capricious gods. Percy is set to the task of recovering Zeus' stolen item of power, his master lightning bolt, and must return it by solstice or the gods will descend into another brutal war. Naturally, there are triumphs and minor defeats, allies formed and betrayed, battles and monsters, and twists on top of unexpected twists.

As in a lot of young adult literature, there is a curious lack of consequence and morality. Notwithstanding the fact that gods can be killed but will always return, Percy's response to his first kill is remarkably nonchalant. One death is treated as a practical joke and all, even the most personally hurtful of them, are treated in a remarkably emotionless way.

The story is a lot of fun, though. The action is never-ending, the down-time short enough to keep from bogging down the pace (although there could have been a little more build-up to a couple of the action sequences and perhaps fewer of them with the more minor gods and beasties). There are enough moments of lightness and humour to keep the book from becoming too serious. I could have done without the pop culture references, though. (Seriously, Hilary Duff? Way to date your novel, Riordan. Nothing wrong with setting the novel in a certain time and place, but maybe do it without referencing real life people who 20 years from now will only leave readers going, What? Who? Is that a joke?)

In any case, an enjoyable read. I think it would be great read aloud – each chapter ends with a bang, making it easy to break up into once-a-day reading sections. I'll definitely be picking up the rest of this series, once I've finished a few more of the books I already own.

Rick Riordan is the author of five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, as well as an editor of Demigods and Monsters, a collection of essays about the series. He also wrote the adult mystery series Tres Navarre. His website can be found here.

Riordan, Rich. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. New York: Hyperion, 2006.
Finished: 25 June 2009
Rating: 4 of 5 fork-tongued monsters
This was my 5th book in June and my 22nd in 2009.

*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.

27 June 2009

2008/09 Block of the Month - The First Eight

We've fallen a little behind in our block of the month on Livejournal due to some family problems with the person who has put together the BotM. It seems like things are getting better for her, so hopefully the rest of the year will be an improvement on the beginning.

In any case, she recently posted blocks for April and May, so those two are included in this collection of eight blocks. There was an error in her June block, so she's holding that one back until she can work out the problems. Which is quite okay - I've got little planned as far as sewing goes for most of the summer. (Well, that's not quite true, but I haven't quite figured out how to do what I'd like to get done this summer. I really, desperately need to finish some things though. For once.)

This is the April block. I really, really like the look of this block, even with my kind of ugly fabrics. (Seriously, I waver back and forth between grudging enjoyment and a kind of sneering dislike.) I like that it shows off the print, which I do like. I always like the blocks best that keep the burgundy and the orange clear of one another, which this one does, so that certainly helps.

And here is the May block. I sort of wish that I'd moved colours around, but I've been following the colour layout exactly as it's been set out in the original blocks.

One of the things I like about this block is that it shows off the marble effect of the burgundy in a way that usually just kind of looks muddy and mottled. But, that said, with so much of the burgundy, it still kind of looks almost dour (for a block made with yellow and orange).

I think I'm back on an upswing about this block though because looking at the photo now, it doesn't seem so bad as it did on Wednesday when I made it. Hm.

20 June 2009

Review: Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

I tend not to read a lot of graphic novels. I enjoy some of them and I love the combination of art and story, but so much of what I encounter seems either to be men's wank fodder or anti-social in a way that annoys me or too much the superhero thing or… or… or… So on CBC's website, I saw that the online book club was reading Skim, a graphic novel by cousins Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Their description of the novel intrigued me, so I shelled out the ridiculous sum of $30 to buy it online from Groundwood books (should have gone to a bookstore...)

From the CBC Canada Reads book club site: Skim takes us into the world of Kimberly Keiko Cameron. It's 1993, and she's in grade 10 at a private girls school in Toronto. Skim is the nickname she's been given by the popular girls in her class. It's a constant reminder to her that she's not slim. Through Skim's diary entries and the small moments of her daily life, the book depicts the teenager's response to depression, crushes, a student's suicide, gay sexuality and the experience of being an outsider.

Opening paragraph:
Dear Diary,
Today Lisa said,
"Everyone thinks they are unique."

That is not unique!!
As I said, I don't really know very much about graphic novels, and I don't know much about art or how to talk about it, but I really loved the art in this book. Sometimes it's quite sketchy looking, but other panels are rich with detail and emotion. Some of the characters, like Skim's best friend Lisa, seem to match faces with personalities: Lisa is as hard and pointy looking as her personality. The cover of my edition looks a bit more like a portrait of a geisha than Skim, the slightly overweight, Wiccan (maybe) teenager, but in the context of the novel, that portrait suits perfectly the often melancholy mood of the book.

The story itself is interesting enough but not terribly special, much like most teenager's day to day lives are interesting enough but not terribly special. There is angst, betrayal, broken hearts, and that search for a sense of self and for one's identity. Having been that girl in many respects, there is something almost nostalgic about the story line. The mood is spot on for a teenage emo angst-fest. I shouldn't sound like I'm making fun, though. The writing and art give the subject and feeling the same weight and seriousness it has while living through it.

I quite liked Skim for the nostalgia and perfect distillation of the feeling of separation from everything and everyone which also defined my high school years. I can imagine, though, it might be grating for someone who has forgotten or never lived through that state of depression and quiet longing for the world to be better than it is.

Jillian Tamaki has done illustrations for a number of newspapers and magazines including New Yorker, SPIN, and MacLean's and of course did the artwork for Skim. Her website can be found here. Mariko Tamaki has written and published a handful of books including Cover Me and Fake ID. I can't quite figure out if a second graphic novel Emiko Superstar (with art by Steve Rolston) has been released. (I'm sure one site said October 2008, but it's not listed on Tamaki's website under published works OR the comics/graphic novels tab.) In any case, her website can be found here.

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. Skim. Toronto: Groundwood, 2009.
Finished: 05 June 2009
Rating: 5 of 5 Wiccan rituals to bring forth the spirit of the dead
This was my 2nd book in June and my 19th in 2009.

*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.

Review: The Man Who Forgot How to Read by Howard Engel

I have occasional, passing bouts of interest in memoirs and auto/biographers, but generally only in cases where I'm already a fan of the author or subject. I quite loved Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family, for example, but it's pretty unlikely that I'd have read it if I hadn't already read and loved his novels. A month ago, I'd never heard of Howard Engel, so The Man who Forgot How to Read would never have even been on my radar except that when I went to check the weather on the CBC website one day, they had a big link to their online book club, which read the memoir in May. I read a fair bit about the book at their site and was intrigued.

The Man who Forgot How to Read tells the story of how author Howard Engel woke up one morning, having unknowingly had a stroke, and discovers that he can no longer read. Having written an (apparently) well known series of novels about detective Benny Cooperman, the loss of Engel's reading skills was a blow not just to his sense of self (Engel is/was a voracious reader), but also to his career. He could still write, but couldn't read what he'd written; the letters on the page looked foreign, as if they'd been printed in Serbo-Croatian rather than English. How could he complete and edit a novel like that? Maybe it's better to say that this memoir is about how Engel came back to himself, both as a reader and a writer.

Opening paragraph:
My name is Howard Engel. I write detective stories. That's what I tell people when they ask me what I do. I could say I'm a writer or a novelist, but that raises a false echo in my brain, so I'm happier with the more modest claim of writing detective stories. I've written quite a few of them.
Although I can't speak to Engel's skills as a writer before his stroke – I've never read any of the Benny Cooperman novels – this particular bit of writing is simple and understated. It's very straightforward, feels honest, and unpretentious. I don't know how much of that is a result of Engel's style as a writer and how much is due to his stroke. There are occasional blurbs (particularly noticeable in the section about his childhood and the years leading up to the stroke) that felt unnecessary and repetitive sometimes in word choice and sometimes in subject (though of course I can't find any of them by skimming just now). There are bits that felt like unnecessary diversions, but again I don't know if Engel thought that there were important points to be made (that I obviously missed) or if they were also a result of the stroke.

Nevertheless, this is quite an interesting book, at least if you're intrigued by the oddities of the human brain and just how amazing it is at finding ways of working around problems. (Engel spends a fair bit of time talking about the ways he's learned to trick his brain into working better for him.) I think it would be interesting to compare his writing now with his writing before, though that would probably require dredging up an interest in detective fiction that I'm not sure I've got.

Howard Engel wrote close to a dozen detective novels before the stroke, beginning with The Suicide Murders, and he's published one since, Memory Book and is at work on another. He's also written a few non-fiction books, including Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen, and Their Kind and Crimes of Passion: An Unblinking Look at Murderous Love.

Engel, Howard. The Man who Forgot How to Read. Toronto: Harper, 2008.
Finished: 19 June 2009
Rating: 3 of 5 Sero-Croation newspapers
This was my 4th book in June and my 21st in 2009.

*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.

19 June 2009

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

Tonight's dinner (not pictured) was a comedy of errors, without any of the redeeming comedic value. (Meat gone off, a burned sauce, boiling water spilled on my tummy...) I started my evening tired, hungry and not feeling that well, and now I've lost two hours, am still tired, still hungry, still don't feel well, AND I have a burned stomach. Plus a sink full of dishes to wash. Sigh.

I've not been updating to much this last while, which maybe means I'm getting tired of this and it's time to give up. Or maybe it means that I've not been happy with anything I've been making. Or maybe it doesn't mean much of anything. I don't know.

I think I've mentioned that I'd been feeling unwell for a while, well, I finally went to a doctor about it, but I'm not really convinced that his diagnosis really was the whole story. The medication I've been taking hasn't really been helping. I suppose I need to go see someone again, but I have a hard time going to clinics about things that feel wishy-washy to me - vague discomforts (I can't really call them pains, but they're so constant that it's worse than just a short sharp pain would be) to me don't lend themselves to visits to a clinic. They want Symptom A + Symptom B = Diagnosis X, leading to Treatment Y, and Patient Z out the door. I wish I could find a doctor taking new patients. Preferably not an old doctor, either, because that would be just my luck that I'd start seeing someone and s/he'd retire.

Anyway, these vague discomforts are mostly related to my stomach and the treatment I was given was Prevacid, so if I've got a problem with stomach acid, that means I should be more careful about what I'm eating. I've not felt inspired by food in a while.

Still, I finally got around to making spring rolls the other day. I don't know that I did a very good job - it seems like there should maybe be more filling so the rice wrapper isn't layered so thick and one of the spring rolls I made had a lot of tears in it by the time I got it on the plate. Still, these were really tasty - the vegetables are bright and fresh and came alive with garlic and cilantro and serrano pepper. It was really spicy (I should be avoiding that... didn't seem to bother me, though) but pretty spectacular tasting. I've got enough rice papers left to make spring rolls every day for the rest of eternity, so I'll definitely have to try it again.

A few days prior to the spring rolls, I made healthy meatloaf. This meatloaf probably had pretty equal amounts of meat and vegetables in it - finely diced mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, and red pepper, as well as rolled oats.

It's not the most tasty looking thing, but it was really delicious, especially as leftovers with a bit of cheese melted over and a puddle of ketchup and mustard for dipping. I served it with mashed sweet potatoes, which I found tasty but too strange to want to eat often, and sautéed snap peas (delicious!) I've got most of the leftovers in the freezer, so I'll definitely be eating this again, and will probably make it again someday if I'm in the mood for comfort food.

Even though they're completely different meals, this sort of looks samey, doesn't it? I made this a few days prior to the meatloaf. It's just salmon in a very simple marinade of (mostly) orange juice and ginger, and the glaze was quite tasty, though most of it cooked away. I severely overcooked it though and didn't eat very much of the salmon because it was so dry.

And that's the backlog. Enjoyable, all. Shame I didn't get to eat any of them tonight, instead of my trashed stir-fry beef with snow peas and tomatoes...

09 June 2009

Sausage and Sweet Potato Chili

This photo is several days old now and when I look at it, I think that June isn't really the time of year to be making chili. But when I made this, it snowed. SNOW. In June. I feel pretty strongly about the fact that it should not snow, in the northern hemisphere, in June. But my sister assures me that it snowed in July once, a few years back.

The thing about living in Calgary is that we have pretty wild weather, sometimes. Not wild in the sense of hurricanes and tornadoes, but if we get a Chinook at the right time in winter, it can go from -20 to +20 within hours. And sometimes it also snows when it should be summer. Sigh.

In any case, this was a very delicious dinner, which very much suited the weather, if not the season. It was sweet and savoury and warm and filling. The chili wasn't over-powering or under-whelming, just a nice compliment to the flavours of the chorizo sausage, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, and other spices. I'll definitely be making this again, but I hope not for another 6 months or so.

04 June 2009

Chicken and Potato Caesar Salad

You know, this is not the most attractive picture, but it was pretty tasty. Even better on the second day, once the garlic had more of a chance to do its thing in the dressing.

Basically, this is what it says on the tin: a combination of potato salad and chicken Caesar salad. But lighter than either and a really great dish for lunch. Essentially it's boiled potatoes and cooked chicken breast, coated lightly with a (light) homemade Caesar dressing, topped with sliced green onions and chopped parsley, and served over baby romaine and other greens.

I was really impressed with the dressing, since most "light" Caesar dressings in my experience haven't really tasted that good, but this one was garlicy and delicious.

03 June 2009

LJ Birthday Blocks - June 20

Another set of blocks for my birthday blocks group. These are much smaller than usual - 6.5 inch blocks rather than 12-in ones. Which, actually, is why I've made four rather than just two.

The request, this time, was for 2 6.5 inch blocks featuring stars or frogs or featuring fabrics with either frogs or stars on them. I did consider, for a while, coming up with a paper-pieced frog, but honestly, it seemed like too much work for my particular talents. And then, I didn't want to buy fabric with frogs or stars because generally speaking I don't really like novelty prints and I wouldn't want to have scraps afterwards. So star blocks! I was going to do something more structured than this, but I decided that wonky would be fun, so wonky stars was it.

I sort of felt like the recipient was ripping herself off by requesting 6-in blocks, so I made her four rather than two. And this, truly, is only the equivalent to one 12-in block, so I still feel like I'm not giving her as much as she deserves, but regardless. I hope she likes them.

01 June 2009

Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken

There is something intimidating to me about making curry paste. I'm not really sure what it is, but I never make my own curries. (I suppose I have made butter chicken from scratch in the past, as well as aloo gobi, but otherwise.) That cookbook I kept talking about in the last few entries, Jamie's Food Revolution has several not-entirely intimidating recipes for curry pastes, but... I don't know.

Anyway, I keep trying out different packets and jars of curry pastes and sauces, hoping to find something good, and this one was very good. I've gone and thrown away the package without paying very much attention to what company created it - maybe Asian Home Gourmet or Thai Kitchen or... I don't know. In any case, the suggested recipe called for sliced chicken, diced potatoes, and sliced carrots, so what's what I did.

I didn't pay a huge amount of attention to how much I was tossing in with my curry sauce, but I probably doubled up on the potatoes and carrots, so by the time everything was cooked, there wasn't an awful lot of sauce to go around. Nevertheless: delicious.

It was spicy enough to make my nose run, but didn't really feel hot on my tongue. Thoroughly enjoyable and probably something I'll make again, though next time I'll watch my proportions of vegetables.