Monday, January 30, 2012

Readers rate DC5 (Recirculation) and the whole series

The newest book in the Distant Cousin set, Distant Cousin: Recirculation, has received reader comments which, in many cases, have included remarks about the entire series to date. The third one below, longer and more detailed, is from a professional reviewer. Thanks to all!

"I love the Distant Cousin characters, they feel like family to me, I am interested in their lives, I worry about them, and I just adore them. I think I've said this about each book, but I think [Recirculation] is my favorite! Highly recommended!"
 "Even though it was the fifth book the characters seemed fresh and alive. Al has always done a great job at character development and it continues in Recirculation. The book is about family values, but it doesn't stop there. There is plenty of adventure to keep you reading to the wee hours. If you haven't read the Distant Cousin Series start at the beginning. Book 5 will entertain you and keep you wanting more."

"The best thing about Recirculation is the storyline and the Spielbergian character development, as is the case with the four previous Distant Cousin books. This part of the friendly space alien saga features the teenaged twins, Julio and Clio. We learn much more detail about Julio's engineering acumen and Clio discovers healing powers she did not realize she had. There is a section of the book that takes me back to the Don Juan books of the wonderful Sixties when Clio goes to Mexico to meet with a traditional healer. Ana's flying pod takes the crew on yet another adventure, leaving the reader salivating for DC6. What more could the readers ask?

"There is a lot I could say about the plot, but of course I won't. If you have gotten this far in the series, you already know what to expect. The best thing about the Distant Cousin books is that the reader can so easily visualize the movie in his or her head with very little provocation. The storyline is new, yet familiar. The essence of Spielberg's Close Encounters or E.T. remains pervasive throughout. The characters and dialog tell the story. The whole thing is show, don't tell in a manner that any reader can appreciate. The storyline flows, the characters develop comfortably, and you feel as if you are so glad that you know these people! I was particularly pleased with the pacing of this fifth in the series, the way it begins slowly and gradually accelerates to the end."
Floyd M. Orr, PODBRAM

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More frisks for Ana! Rebecca Pechefsky plays Bach's Preambulum, BWV 829


We are not sure if Ana loves the harpsichord because she's from another planet or in spite of being from another planet, but whatever the reason, the clean, crisp resonance of a good harpsichord thrills her soul.

She also loves the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the skill of Rebecca Pechefsky at the keyboard. Ana owns a smaller harpsichord and has learned to play a small number of pieces, mostly by Bach and mostly polyphonic, herself, so while she isn't a virtuoso on the instrument, she knows enough to appreciate the precision and artistry of Ms. Pechefsky's playing.

Share Ana's delight as Rebecca Pechefsky plays the Praeambulum from J. S. Bach's Partita No. 5 in G Major, BWV 829, above!

Website of Rebecca Pechefsky: recordings, concert schedule, photos, & more

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ana bakes a cake from a French children's recipe: a unit cake!

When Ana landed on Earth, all our foods were new to her, of course: thousands of cuisines, tens of thousands of flavors, millions of recipes. We shouldn't be surprised that some of her attempts at cooking should be unusual and innovative. (They weren't all successful, either.)

One of her early baking experiments was from a French recipe used to teach children how to cook. It's called, as far as we know, a "unit cake," because it can be made using whatever unit of measure (preferably small) one cares to use. Ana used a simple graduated cup measure, and that's what we recommend for this recipe. The teaspoon is the only other unit needed.

You will notice, in the recipe below, that "well-greased" is underlined. That is because Ana's first cake stuck to the pan, and when it was turned out on a plate, developed some unsightly cracks. Making sure the pan is well greased will likely avoid this.

Her husband Matt, no slouch in the kitchen, came to her rescue, making a butterscotch/pecan sauce to cover the imperfections (see above). After all, their house is surrounded by thousands of pecan trees.... This sauce is not really needed, and you are on your own if you want to duplicate it. (Hint: Matt added a few sprinkles of rum to the cake before pouring on the sauce.)

Unit Cake with Yogurt

1 unit yogurt (one cup works well; a smaller measure is also fine)

1 1/2 units flour

2 units sugar (less is OK)

3/4 unit oil

1 1/2 t. vanilla

lemon or orange zest

1 t. baking soda

1 1/2 t. baking powder

chopped fruit (2 apples or pears work well)

Bake in a well-greased bundt pan @ 350º for 30 minutes--not longer, or the cake will be dry

Let it cool 15-20 minutes before turning onto a plate.

See lots more of Ana's unusual and/or favorite recipes in the column to the right, beneath the photo of cranberry-apple pie, including:


Friday, January 6, 2012

A recipe poem about a salad Ana does NOT want to attempt

Ana found this recipe poem about a salad in an anthology of poetry. She likes it because it rhymes, but not because it sounds like something she would like to eat, and never mind her being an extraterrestrial. Her husband was leery of "anchovy sauce" himself. He was able, however, to forestall his wife's worries about the "dying anchorite."

If anyone would care to try this poetic salad recipe and report back to us, we can get word to Ana--if it's favorable!

Recipe for a Salad

To make this condiment, your poet begs

The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs;

Two boiled potatoes, passed through kitchen-sieve,

Smoothness and softness to the salad give;

Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,

And, half-suspected, animate the whole.

Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,

Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;

But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,

To add a double quantity of salt.

And, lastly, o'er the flavored compound toss

A magic soup-spoon of anchovy sauce.

Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!

'T would tempt the dying anchorite to eat;

Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,

And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!

Serenely full, the epicure would say,

Fate can not harm me, I have dined to-day!

Sydney Smith (1771-1845)

See more of Ana's favorite recipes in the right column, under the photo of cranberry-apple pie, including:

Another strange salad (but not as strange as the one above)
Salads go well with soups!