Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Guest Post: Lauren Kate

I'm a self-confessed Fallen fan. Angels are definitely becoming the new vampires - I reviewed Fallen here. Lauren's next book, Torment, carries on where Fallen left off. I was fortunate enough to have a super early copy, but I can't divulge details of it just yet. However, Lauren sweetly volunteered a guest post for you. In it she reveals her secret hobby and new found passion. 

A Recipe for Relaxation by Lauren Kate

From the age of four to about seventeen, I wanted to be a ballerina. I fell in love with ballet’s drama and its grace, with the fancy French words used to describe the simplest movements, with my longtime teacher Miss Melva, and of course, with the glittering costumes I got to wear at the end of the year for recital. I have twenty years of formal ballet training, but I gave it up after college when I was broke and living in New York and couldn’t afford lessons anymore. Plus, as an instructor at an audition once told me, I didn’t have the right shaped feet.

Luckily, in the meantime, I’d found something new to aspire to: I wanted to be a writer. So I majored in creative writing in college, starting sending out short stories to magazines, worked as an editor at a publishing house to understand how writing turned into real books, then went on to get a master’s degree in fiction, where I also got to teach a few writing classes of my own.

Midway through the Fallen series, I’m still (happily!) working on being a writer. But in between books, or maybe in between series, I’ve found my next aspiration:

Next up, I want to be a chef.

I grew up cooking with my Lithuanian-Hungarian father, who grew up cooking with his mother. Like my dad, I can spend an eternity at the grocery store, and I have to walk into every bakery, every fish shop, every produce market whenever I’m traveling in a new city. Sometimes I dream of going to culinary school and opening my own little restaurant. When I tell that to people, they often look confused. “But you’re a writer!” they remind me.

Since I started writing full-time last year, cooking has become the best way for me to unwind after a long day pegging away at the keyboard. In many ways, cooking feels like the opposite of writing. It stretches out my cramped fingers, it lets me turn off my brain for a little while, it’s extraordinarily sensory in a way that fiction only ever imagines it can be—and I get to share the fruits of my labor with someone else a whole lot more quickly when I cook dinner than I do when I’m working on a book.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to culinary school, and I may never get to open up a restaurant. But as long as I’m writing novels during the day, I’ll be moonlighting as a chef at night.

And for any of you chefs out there, here’s a recent recipe I cooked up, named after one of my favorite characters from Fallen:

Arriane’s Crazy Carpetbag Salad

My favorite mix of crunchy, sweet, tangy, and salty. The secret weapon is the crispy mix of garlic and ginger on top.

1 large bunch arugula or spinach, roughly chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
½ stalk of celery, diced (about 5 large ribs with the leafy, inner ribs included)
1 small red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeƱo or red Fresno chili, diced (optional, for those who like it spicy)
1 mango, diced
½ cup dried tart cherries
½ cup shelled pistachios
2 cups cooked farro*

2 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
5 cloves finely chopped garlic
Kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil

juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp mirin (optional)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste

*I love farro’s chewiness and nuttiness, but you can also use couscous, quinoa, orzo, or any small grain of your choice.

  1. Combine the first eight ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat and added finely chopped ginger and garlic. Add a couple pinches of salt. Cook, stirring regularly, until the ginger and garlic are crisp and golden brown, taking care not to burn them. Use a slotted spoon or a mesh strainer to remove the garlic and ginger bits and drain them on a paper towel. Reserve the oil.
  3. When ready to serve, toss the remaining warm oil, lemon juice, mirin, salt, and pepper with the ingredients in the mixing bowl until thoroughly coated. Top with crispy garlic and ginger bits.

Great as a side dish at a barbeque, or on its own for lunch. Serves a small crowd (6-8).

I'm all for promoting cookery - I hope Lauren's culinary skills grow! Just keep writing though, okay? When I have all the ingredients together, I might try out the recipe. 

For all the latest information about Lauren's series, check out the Fallen website


asamum said...

What a fantastic and unusual post. I would definately come to your restaurant Lauren. Thank you to you both :D

(Bookish)InABox said...

What a great post! That's fantastic. I haven't read anything else like it.

Mmm, that salad sounds tasty!