January was a pretty quiet month here. Tried to concentrate on getting some stuff done, and didn’t. Hopefully going to make some progress on that. But for the time being, here’s what I did do in January.
What I Read
The Adventures of Alyx by Joanna Russ – Short story/novella collection about the equally scary and witty Alyx, a S&S/Sci-Fantasy heroine. A lot of it’s very fun but the novella starts to drag by comparison and the last story’s tonal change completely lost me, so the whole thing ended on a sour note. Still worth a look.
The Sword of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett – Felt a little bland to begin with but it kicks into a higher gear as the plot develops and it’s not perfect, but it’s really entertaining and the basic bones of the plot are great.
Reaper Man by Sir Terry Pratchett – Hrm. Not quite as I remembered. The Death subplot and the Wizards subplot don’t really marry up. But I think it still works if you rate it by its highest moments because its highest moments are tiptop.
A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay – It’s poetic, thoughtful, original, at times startlingly good…
… and unfortunately very dull to read. Maybe some other day it would pop? But not now.
The Calculus Affair by Hergé – Picked as a slump buster. Didn’t work great. Highlights were Tintin in a tank and Captain Haddock’s anger.
What the Dinosaurs Did The Night Before Christmas by Refe Tuma and Susan Tuma – Very charming read. Further proof you can’t trust creatures who have (or pretend to have) facial hair.
The Blue Lotus by Hergé – Fun, but not much more. Probably just not that big of a Tintin fan tbh. But might read a few more when I’ve got an ideal moment.
I’ve decided to add this section to highlight things I did on the blog I’m not mentioning elsewhere in this that I’m proud of.
My favourite review written this month was for Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen.
What Else I Did
Food and Drink: I tried to do a thing of focusing on one particular cuisine a week to try new things. That didn’t quite work as I lingered on the same cuisine – namely Cantonese – for a whole month, and mostly did things I knew about already.
But what a month.
I think I’ve nailed a classic char siu recipe I’m happy with, mostly going with Made With Lau’s with a few tweaks. I substitute some of the brown sugar for honey, I use garlic instead of garlic salt, and I don’t use the red wine. I’m going to play with a little more, but I think after a few more tweaks, it’s time for me to start trying some untraditional tweaks. Things like ginger, maybe chili. Maybe even fish sauce? I remember once trying paprika in the past to make it redder and thinking it made an interesting twist. We all know the basic of marinading some meat in a bunch of sugar and soy makes it wonderful, but what else we can do with it? Maybe use some chu hou?
I learned about chu hou from this Braised Brisket recipe. I don’t think it’s quite the one I used when I made Brisket with Daikon, but I used one very similar and if there’s one real discovery I made eating a ton of Cantonese food is the standard soy/rice wine/ginger/star anise/cassia braising liquid used for dishes like this and Soya Chicken is fantastic. I love those dishes, and I love using the leftover liquid for, well, everything. I tend to use it as a master stock and in fact still have a little left that I repurposed into a more Sichuan style liquid for lamb and pork.
Incidentally, I kind of got the idea for that from Big Plate Chicken, a dish I encountered at Silk Road. It originates from Xianjiang, but its use of Sichuan peppercorns (of course I looked up the recipe) got me thinking about possibilities there.
TV and Movies: January was the month of Archer. If nothing else happened, I got that done. I’m not convinced the next season will be great, but that’s okay, I’ll always have the great seasons.
I also watched Big Trouble in Little China which is a bunch of fun, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which was a bunch of fun until about halfway through, and The Water Man which is pleasant but unlikely to live long in the memory.
Music: I did a listen through of Dark Tranquillity’s discography, an article of which will make its way up soon-ish. I’m planning to do a bunch of other discography listen throughs so let me know if there’s any band you think I should do.
And that’s it.
Oh. And one last thing. I passed one hundred followers! Pretty cool huh? Particularly as I also passed 10k views and 4k visits. I plan to have a celebratory post up for one hundred followers up at some point but it might take a while, as it’s one chungus of a post.