Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent Listening: A Hat Full of Sky

So, I ran up to St Louis yesterday to do some (fun) errands, which let me finally finish listening to A HAT FULL OF SKY by Terry Pratchett. Which was really very good, of course. It’s supposed to be YA, but I don’t know, I think it’s actually MG — Tiffany is only 11 in the story. There are, it turns out, four stories in the Tiffany series: THE WEE FREE MEN, A HAT FULL OF SKY, WINTERSMITH, and I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT. Naturally I am listening to them out of order, because I didn’t happen to have burned the first one to cds yet. I’ll go back and pick that one up first before going on to the later two, and it may take awhile to get to any of them because I won’t be showing again till next fall. I’m thinking of using audiobooks while weeding next spring, though. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?

ANYWAY. I usually don’t go out of my way to read MG, but there are exceptions — Diana Wynne Jones, for example. And Terry Pratchett is like DWJ in that all of his books are likely to appeal to adults, even if they’re more aimed at children. And though I’m not that interested in his earlier books, it’s hard to beat his later ones — and all the Tiffany books count as later, imo.

So, anyway. Pratchett caught the small personal concerns of a child as well as the big concerns of an adult. I loved Tiffany! I was right there with her in her impatience and distaste for dealing with some of the daily concerns of a witch — witches as social workers: that was certainly new. I was with how Tiffany grew and changed through the course of the story, but didn’t ever become too perfect. I enjoyed watching her figure out Mistress Weatherwax. I really appreciated how some of the minor characters stayed themselves (Anagrama) or else chaged pretty dramatically (Petula). (Sorry if I don’t have the spelling quite right, I was listening to the book, remember, not reading it, so these are phoenetic spellings.)

Now I’m looking forward to going back and picking up THE WEE FREE MEN.

Now, about those errands I was running: what am I going to do with this fennel bulb? I ran up to Global Foods, see, to renew my supply of Chaokoh coconut milk (very important!), so you can see this was a fun errand, not the tedious annoying sort. I only get up to Global Foods a couple times a year, see. They have just about everything! They hang flags in the aisles so you can see what counry’s food is in that aisle. I always go up and down all the aisles. I get pressed tofu, which I like, and things like couscous, which they have in bulk, and of course I look carefully at the fascinating produce. Hence the fennel bulb. I also got some beautiful baby bok choi and beech mushrooms, bean sprouts, dates and figs, quinoa — my mother wanted some and I like it ground into flour and used in baking — I already have lemon grass in the freezer, but I picked up some lovely poblanos and jalapenos. I tried hard to exercise self-control, but jeeze.

I always try to pick up something new to me, and I always give way to the urge to pick up something indulgent. I wanted anduille, but they were out, very disappointing. I forgot to look for dried Chinese sausages, alas. I picked up shrimp balls, used in South Asian soups, which were both new to me AND indulgent. I looked at lamb and goat, but it was too expensive. I got whole grain barley flour, which I’m almost out of, and chickpea flour, which I like for making various Indian dishes.

Then I came home and made soup with the shrimp balls and bok choi and the beech mushrooms and a handful of bean sprouts. It was very good,which was nice, because I sure didn’t follow the recipe. Even my mother loved it. I also made beef satay with peanut sauce, which was excellent. Today, pad thai. Lots of good things in store over the next few days. Ah, cooking, the hobby that is truly its own reward! But I still have no idea what to do with this bulb of fennel.

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2 Comments Recent Listening: A Hat Full of Sky

  1. Elaine T

    I roast a fennel bulb (450F uncovered 20 minutes, covered 20 minutes) with other root vegetables and either serve as is, or throw into the soup pot.

  2. Rachel

    Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds like something to do while you’re baking a pizza or something.

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