A long weekend’s worth of links & deviled egg inquiry

I am slowly transitioning from insane farmer woman back to being a writer who gardens a little. By the end of the weekend, the new vegetable plots should be finished, seedlings in, and seeds sown. And it’s a good thing because I am itching to get back to writing. All the travel and work stress is almost gone, and being in balance again is now appearing possible.

The glass is now installed in the Magic Window, the walls and most of the ceiling are up, and the cool chimney pot we found at the salvage yard is in place on the roof.

Our friend Steve, a natural born Tinkerer, has been up here helping out. He’s our lead elf for alternative energy issues. (The goal is to keep the cottage completely off the electrical grid.) The small wind turbine came last week. At first they mounted it on the garage roof, but that was a bad idea. Then they put it on a 10-foot pole in the back meadow. Better. Now it’s on a 20-foot pole in the back meadow – MUCH better. They are still experimenting with the exact location to take the best advantage of the winds. The other piece of the electric system will be a solar panel that should arrive next week.

Just writing all of this down makes me tired.

Aside from gardening and hanging with friends this weekend, I am going to try and make yogurt in my crockpot, thanks to a tip from Bookavore.

Don’t know what you’re going to do this weekend? I have a few suggestions:

Change a life. Buy a book for a boy in prison (thanks to all at Guys Lit Wire!)

Read Jezebel’s review of Wintergirls.

Read this jaw-dropping interview with A. S. Byatt in which she discusses her new book, The Children’s Book, a novel set in Edwardian England that examines the destructive side of creativity. (For the record, I usually like her books a lot and am looking forward to this one.) In the interview she says some rather stunning things, such as, “Yes, because I noticed that there’s a high rate of suicide among the children of children’s book writers.”

And “I think that most of the children’s writers live in the world that they’ve created, and their children are kind of phantoms that wander around the edge of it in the world, but actually the children’s writers are the children.”

In the first comment, I believe she is speaking only within the context of children’s writers from the Edwardian era, but the second comment seems more general. Any thoughts on this, gentle readers? (The book is available in the UK and Australia now, comes out in the States in October.) (And thanks to Judith in Australia for the info about this!)

That ought to hold you for a couple days.

ONE LAST THING!!! Do you have any secret ingredients you put in deviled eggs? If yes, please tell me what they are!

PS – GoogleLitTrips has a very nice feature on FEVER 1793. Check it out, teachers!

51 Replies to “A long weekend’s worth of links & deviled egg inquiry”

  1. Yes: pickle juice! Juice from a jar of green olives or actual pickle relish will also work. Gives them a tang. Mmm!

  2. Deviled Eggs

    I use sweet pickle relish, mustard, mayo, a little pepper, and a sprinkle of paprika on top. Yum!

  3. Paprika, yellow mustard, sweet relish. I usually HATE sweet relish, but love it in deviled eggs.

    I actually have a whole cookbook of deviled egg recipes. I love it so.

  4. Speaking of…

    I don’t have a secret tip, I barely know how to make them myself1 But I just thought it was funny that I am currently making deviled eggs as I pull up this entry about them. What do you know?lol

    Have a good day!!

  5. I like deviled eggs when they’re made with Miracle whip instead of regular mayonaise. And, of course, paprika. Maybe some dill would be nice, and probably a tiny bit of salt.

  6. A.S. Byatt has written some wonderful books (I loved Possession, but I’ve tried to ignore her pronouncements ever since she said all those mean and silly things about the Harry Potter books. Jealous much? Anyway, when she says all that stuff about writers being childish and self-involved, I can’t help suspecting she’s talking about herself at least as much as anyone else.

    Can’t help you with the deviled eggs, as they’re among my least favorite foods on earth. Ewww. You enjoy, though!

  7. Dijon mustard rather than just yellow; salt/pepper; hot sauce; pickle juice

    I just made some today!

  8. On art and children

    I’ve thought about this quite a bit. I’ve personally shocked a lot of people with the statement that I’m “not having children”. (Getting married a few years ago brought these discussions up with some frequency.) There are a number of reasons for this (including the fact that I’m currently a school teacher, which gives me “children” aplenty), one of which is my own creativity. It is hard to have a job and to make art. It is hard to have a job and nurture a good loving relationship and make art. It is hard to have a job and nurture a good relationship and be involved with a church/social group and make art. (etc.) I can’t imagine doing that with a child.

    I think it would be a different thing for a more aggressive personality than mine, or a man. Men can come home, shut the door and decide to pursue a serious hobby (work related or not) and that’s fine. but for a mother to deliberately ignore her child when they are in the same house… that strikes most people as neglectful (and might in fact be neglectful). Parenthood is full-time, 100% of the time, no coffee breaks or change in shifts. Knowing this, and knowing myself and knowing that I would not want my child to feel like the “other” in my life, I have decided that it would be best to pursue my goals child-free. But most people are scandalized at the “I don’t want children because I want to paint” concept, so I usually don’t go there.

  9. deviled eggs

    It might sound weird but I like to use spicy mustard and … spam. Yes, spam cut into little square pieces.

  10. deviled eggs

    dry mustard to the yolk mixture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon~depends on taste~ so taste as you make(Coleman’s in the little tin can)& a bit of white pepper…

  11. Deviled Eggs

    I use mustard, plain yogurt, jalapeno juice from a jar of pickled peppers, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder. I put paprika on top!

  12. Re: On art and children

    I don’t care whether people have children or not, but I don’t know any parents who spend all their time with their children. They’d go nuts. Parents I know work, or are in book clubs, or go to the gym, or have their young ones watch TV while they fool around on the Internet or do scrabooking, or, yes, write.

    Babies need to be watched all the time they’re awake, but they nap a lot. Toddlers and preschoolers can occupy themselves for parts of the day. School-age kids go to school and play with friends. Parenting is hard, but it’s not all-consuming.

    But, wait, my kids are more likely to kill themselves? Scary thought!

  13. Re: On art and children

    However, if the parent is also working a job, it doesn’t leave much time for properly nurturing art and a child (of any age). I wouldn’t want either one to suffer. I already worry about teaching and having kids.

  14. I don’t know any writers of children’s books whose children have committed suicide. Look! My scientific sample is JUST AS GOOD as Byatt’s!


  15. Re: On art and children

    The Byatt quotes surprise me . . . one of the threads in Byatt’s “Babel Tower” and “A Whistling Woman” is the children’s book Frederica’s roommate writes for her child’s entertainment . . . cast in a positive light if I remember correctly. Maybe I’m not? I love Byatt’s books, her writing is so delicious.

    One of the best parents I know at my library has four children and she and her husband work fulltime. She has been bringing her children to my story times for 8 years and they are some of the most creative, happy, well-adjusted children I know.

    I would think a parent can get sucked into anything, not just writing, that would make their child “other” in their life.
    Obsession with appearance –> spending all the time at the gym
    Addicted to the internet, soap operas, etc.
    Workaholic of any sort working overtime

    Perhaps it just seems strange when people are at home but not really at home because they’re so absorbed in their writing?

    It does seem like an odd pronouncement, did she have any backup?

  16. Garlic powder, sweet-hot mustard, and chopped fresh chives. And definitely Miracle Whip instead of mayo. I prefer the sweeter taste that the Miracle Whip gives.

  17. deviled eggs

    Curry powder! Yum. Then add something crunchy or pickly. My in-laws (from India) dig my eggs. 😉

    ~holly cupala

  18. I use miracle whip, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, and parmesean cheese. The parm is my secret ingredient. It makes it really creamy, and it’s delicious.

  19. Re: On art and children

    The woman you know–is her job also her livelihood or is it separate? (Does she work and also write or whatever, or does she write and that is her work?)

    Some people have really driven personalities. I knew a woman who could work and produce crazy amounts of art work (she was in grad school) and also run a family (which I think was a family farm). I was impressed, but don’t think that I could do it myself.

    Looking at my own mother, she was 100% there for us as kids and in that way was a great mom. But she gave up a lot in order to do that. She worked, but there was no such thing as a hobby (apart from cooking and reading) and I think she lived vicariously through us a little too much.

  20. My children are alive and well and they damn well better stay that way. I have been very clear that that’s my expectation, and that suicide is not an option. Yeesh, Ms. Byatt.

    Secret ingredients in deviled eggs are, in my opinion, inadvisable. That said, my father adds jalapeno peppers to his, and a friend adds capers to hers.

  21. Re: On art and children

    She is very into her family, she started an organic co-op with other families recently too I think. She always strikes me as passionate about life. But I do think it’s family and job and not the impression of a lot of hobbies, no.

    I work in a community with a lot of stay-at-home moms and it’s just depressing how many obviously don’t care about their kids . . . they dress them up in expensive outfits and then basically ignore them, like they’re little dolls. I think many moms feel they’re failing if they don’t stay at home from ages 0-5 but I think this doesn’t matter as much as dedication and love do. I know this is way off topic from the Byatt quote! 🙂 But an interesting discussion.

  22. I use real mayo, dry mustard (1 tsp for 12 eggs), pepper and a little cayenne. Beware of too much salt; a little goes a long way. I agree the pickle juice is a fun choice, also fresh horseradish. Decorate tops with paprika, a crumble of bacon, tiny sprigs of parsley, a few thin slices of green onions or green olives My mouth is watering.
    BTW, I used to grow horseradish. It grows about the size of rhubarb. I sent for a piece of root from a seed catalog. Didn’t know it would be invasive. I used to dig up pieces of roots, pare, and then chop them in a food processor with a little vinegar until I finally eradicated it from the garden. Buying a jar of fresh (not “prepared”) at the market is a lot easier and almost as good.

  23. Re: On art and children

    I just wanted to say that your decision not to have children makes a lot of sense. I have one and my experience, unlike ‘s, is that it is extremely consuming and limits one’s opportunities for creative pursuit dramatically. I think that many people find ways to put their creative interests high enough on the to-do list that they still get some attention, but others never quite make it there. I know several former writers/artists with elementary-school-age children who haven’t practiced their art in any regular way since their first child was born. It’s not always just a matter of choice, but a complex calculus of energy, time, family needs, personal health, and possibly other variables.

    Men can come home, shut the door and decide to pursue a serious hobby (work related or not) and that’s fine.
    It’s not fine. They can do it without society batting an eye, yes, but their kids, and probably their spouses, are going to feel the absence of that parent. I speak from personal experience.

  24. I think it’s important to take pronouncements of artists of any sort with a grain of salt (and a Tablespoon of pickle juice), as there’s no such thing as the “average writer” or “average painter.” (Well, perhaps talent-wise there is, but personality-wise, no.) Artists tend to speak their own truths as if they were universal — sometimes they are, sometimes not.

  25. I once accidentally bought SMOKED paprika, and it was pretty good. You could try it for a change.

    I know a lot of children’s writers, and none of their children have killed themselves.

  26. Re: On art and children

    Yeah. What I meant by “fine” was that men did not face the social pressures or (in some cases) the internal pressures that women do when they shut the door and do (x).

    Most of the parents I’ve observed have looked a lot like the one you described. Child one is in school but child 2 is still potty training. And child one still has sick days, permission slips, needs homework help, has weekend slumber parties, doesn’t know how to clean their room, wants a pet, (etc.). I’m not sure I’d have the emotional power to deal with that gracefully plus work plus pursue anything other than sleeping.

  27. re deviled eggs

    don’t gag or laugh: peanut butter. yes, a teaspoon or so in with all the other stuff mentioned (and I love the idea of blue cheese!) gives it a whole new flavor. smmoth not chunky, please. I actually learned this from someone else ages ago when I actually did things like cook deviled eggs. now, I am like thunderchikin: I eat ’em when I sees ’em.

  28. Re: On art and children

    Yes, some people have what it takes to manage all of that and some people don’t. Being a sleep-lover myself, and not a well-managed one at that, I’m still in a “hoping to work the kinks out of this” phase. I adore my daughter, and parenthood has provided tons of insights and changes that I would not have experienced otherwise. But it’s also been frustrating, exhausting, health-damaging, and isolating.

    My, I just realized this could go on long! 🙂 But the preschooler beckons, and I need breakfast.

    I respect you for sensing your own needs and trying to honor them. Best wishes.

  29. 6 boiled eggs
    1/4 cup of mayo
    1 tsp of mustard (my trick is using horseradish dijon mustard)
    1 tsp of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar)
    Paprika for topping

    The vinegar is what REALLY makes it for me! That and adding some homemade salsa (verde preferably,) but my girlfriend always makes the homemade salsa… so, I’d stick with the vinegar, haha

  30. Yikes, – that’s scary. (The suicide, not the eggs.) I suppose it’s different for everyone. But for me, I write when my kids are in school. I have a 5 year old and a 10 year old. It’s a challenge… o.k. a fine tuned juggling act, but it’s all in the organization and flexibility. On top of that I’ve gone back to school. But I’ve found that the more I involve the kids in my writing and school work, the more interested they’ve become in their work. Besides, they give me great writing material!

  31. Yikes, – that’s scary. (The suicide, not the eggs.) I suppose it’s different for everyone. But for me, I write when my kids are in school. I have a 5 year old and a 10 year old. It’s a challenge… o.k. a fine tuned juggling act, but it’s all in the organization and flexibility. On top of that I’ve gone back to school. But I’ve found that the more I involve the kids in my writing and school work, the more interested they’ve become in their work. Besides, they give me great writing material!

  32. I have an off-topic question–sorry to bother you–but I’m trying to decide which day to go to ALA in July. I’m not a librarian, I’m just coming for the Exhibits. But when I found out you’d be attending, I was hoping I’d get to see you. I’m also bringing my 14-year-old twin nieces, and I know they’d love to have your autograph. So if you could let me know which day(s) you’ll be signing books, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

  33. deviled eggs

    This will sound odd, but trust me. Mayo, crushed potato chips and crumbled cooked bacon. Trust me.

  34. Deviled Eggs

    I like to add a pinch of dill seasoning, Dijon mustard, sweet pickle juice (Sweet Gerkins juice is the best), or rSweet relish juice in a pinch.

    Alternate with Creamy Ranch dressing or Blue Cheese dressing.

    When I get home in July I’m seriously going to try to whip up a batch with Old Bay seasoning. THAT sounds interesting.

    Rich J.
    Baghdad, Iraq

  35. Byatt interview

    I am so glad you pointed this out. It is a wonderful interview and so good to see people seriously talking about literature.–Hart

  36. I know it’s a bit late, but Sarah Dessen talks about deviled eggs all the time…I bet her recipe is fantastic! You should ask her about it 🙂

  37. Thanks for mentioning GoogleLitTrips!

    Wow! What an honor to have been mentioned in your blog! Thank you very much for that and for writing the kinds of books that truly engage students!
    Jerome Burg
    founder, GoogleLitTrips.com

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