Eating Authors: Christina Henry

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Christina Henry

Welcome to the last installment of Eating Authors in 2013. I’ve had a wild ride this year, which on the author side of things has included a Nebula nomination and selling a book to Tor. I mention these things because I think they raised my personal profile a bit and that helped lure more than a couple authors to accepting my invitation to drop by and share their most memorable meals.

Our final guest of the year is an author of Urban Fantasy. Christina Henry writes about Madeline Black, an Agent of Death, and her popcorn-loving gargoyle sidekick Beezle. If that doesn’t hook you, then I don’t know what will. The next book in the series, Black Spring, will be coming soon from Ace Books, but for fans who can’t wait, a new Maddy and Beezle story, “Red Isn’t Really My Color,” appeared in the anthology Kicking It earlier this month.

LMS: Welcome, Christina. Thanks for dropping by to round out the year here. So tell me, what’s your most memorable meal?

CH: Every morning in my yoga class our instructor asks us to take a moment to set an intention or a dedication for the class. This is supposed to make you a more mindful student, among other things. You know what I thought of this morning when asked to set an intention? Tacos. I thought about the fact that I intended to put chicken and salsa and garlic and some other stuff in my slow cooker so I could make tacos for dinner. This is probably not what my instructor meant when she asked us to set an intention.

Black Wings

I spend most of my day thinking about food. What to have for breakfast, what to have for lunch, what to have for dinner and when I’m going to prepare all these things. I’m not a chef. I’m just Italian, and we Italians take our food very seriously. Very, very seriously. Which is why I have to spend the rest of my free time running so that the size of my butt does not reflect the size of my appetite.

Over the years I’ve managed to become a halfway decent cook. When I was 20 and very poor and living with my boyfriend I was not-so-much-of-a-cook. In fact, the only thing I could make competently was corn flakes with milk and instant ramen noodle packets. Which meant that at least I could prepare the two items that made up the majority of our meals due to our inability to buy anything more expensive.

But I wanted to do better, and I wanted to make something really smashing that would impress the hell out of my guy. So I bought Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. If you are not familiar with these, they are adorably designed vegetarian cookbooks with handwritten recipes and illustrations by the author. She makes everything sound completely delicious and really easy to do. And the majority of the recipes are really easy to do, as long as you’re not a 20 year old with pretty much zero cooking experience and very high expectations of the outcome.

Black Night

I decided to make blintzes. Blintzes seem easy. It’s a light, thin pancake with a cheesy filling. I thought I would make these fancy blintzes and my boyfriend would come home and see a perfectly assembled platter of deliciousness.

The first step is to blend the batter. I had a very inexpensive hand mixer from Woolworth’s and I mixed up the eggs and salt and flour and milk and butter. It looked like batter. So far, so good.

Then I thought I would make the cheese filling since I had the mixer out. The first step was to push the ricotta cheese through a sieve. I didn’t have a sieve, so I figured that step was unimportant and skipped it, moving straight to the step where you mix all the cheese filling ingredients together. When I was done, the mixture looked kind of…watery. But I soldiered on, assuming that the filling would magically become thicker while I cooked the pancakes.

I put some butter in the pan, heated it up, and poured the batter in. The recipe asked for a 6” omelette or crepe pan. Of course, I did not have an omelette or crepe pan of that size. I did not have that kind of pan at all. I had a 12” supposedly nonstick pan, also purchased from Woolworth (the only place we could afford to shop). I figured that the size of the pancake was irrelevant, a blintz was a blintz no matter how big the pancake was.

Black Howl

The instructions said to tilt the pan until the bottom was coated and then cook until the pancake started to pull away from the side. Somewhere in these directions is an implication that the pancake will mostly cook through without you’re being required to flip it. That’s probably true if you only put in the scant amount of batter required to make a light, thin pancake. I put in a lot more batter than that.

After a while, it seemed like it was taking too long for the pancake to cook so I tried to take it out of the pan and flip it over. The result looked a lot like scrambled eggs.

So I tried again. I had plenty of batter. This time I put in less batter but the pan was getting pretty hot and the butter was starting to smoke. That pancake was a little singed. So was the next one. I though that if I just turned the heat down on the pan I’d be OK. I didn’t really take into account the fact that the cheap pan was very hot and needed to be removed from the burner and cleaned before I proceeded.

The next few pancakes were alternately burned, too thick or otherwise inedible. But I kept going. I was going to make one perfect pancake if it killed me.

Black Heart

The batter ran out before I made that perfect pancake. I foolishly assumed the deliciousness of the cheese filling would overcome any minor imperfections in the batter.

Too bad the cheese filling had the consistency of milk, and didn’t want to stay inside the blintzes so I could fry them.

My boyfriend came home and found me crying over a platter of un-fried blintzes, cheese filling leaking everywhere.

He then did exactly what he was supposed to do. He ate one after another, the watery filling pouring out the back of the blintz, and pronounced each and every one perfectly delicious.

Which was probably why I married him four years later.

Thanks, Christina. Hmm… four years later? How many blintzes does that work out to?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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