Sunday, December 11, 2011

Press & Such

Lately the cookbook has been getting a lot of good press. Or at least, press. I find it sort of odd (but not at all surprising) that most reviewers -- and God bless them for even noticing my little ol' cookbook, it means so much to me -- keep bringing up the "weird" stuff that's mentioned in the cookbook, like "grilled tree rat" and raccoon, etc, instead of the recipes that make up the bulk of the cookbook-- the scrumptious desserts served at The Capitol, or the bread baked at Peeta's bakery, or the filling stews (made with relatively 'normal' ingredients). So I just wanted to say to anyone considering the cookbook, MOST of the recipes are incredibly easy to make, from picking out the ingredients to removing them from the baking pan.

Anyway, here's some of the things that different publications have had to say:

The Hunger Games Fireside Chat - Savanna New reviews my cookbook. Of all the articles out there, I think she's the only one who has actually cooked something FROM the book-- and she does an amazing job, too! Thanks Savanna! :)

The Wall Street Journal - I actually owe writer Alexandra Alter a carton of wine. Her article -- which landed on the front page of the WSJ this past Thursday -- is what got the cookbook suddenly noticed by most other presses.

Boston Globe - If only I could find a hard-copy of this newspaper to check if it made it in there, too! - This got me tons of street cred with my 'nerd' friends.

Flavorwire - I read flavorwire everyday, so opening it up on my computer to discover my cookbook on there was a huge surprise and delight.

However, one of the most thrilling moments of all occurred earlier tonight when my boyfriend and I hit up our local Barnes and Noble. As a lark, I decided to check if they had my cookbook in stock. I really didn't expect them to. And then, low and behold, by the childrens' section I found this display:

I was so excited I had to take a photo with it, giant oversized sweater and all:

So yeah, today was awesome. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family (and hopefully readers). Thank you all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


"It made me think of girls -- little girls, teenage girls, even old girls like me -- who at one point or another discover, like all girls do, their sadness." - Diane Keaton

The above quote, which can be found in Diane Keaton's memoir Then Again, was recently reprinted in The New Yorker in a review for the book. While I am not normally one to read celebrity memoirs, if Ms. Keaton's entire book is filled with such beautiful prose, of course I will read it. Most fiction doesn't possess such meaningful lines.

Plus, this is the woman behind Annie Hall! This is the love interest in Manhattan. All my favorite Woody Allen films involve Diane Keaton. She and Woody Allen have a spark that he does not possess with his other screen loves (Mia Farrow, etc). Frankly, she just comes off as badass.

But this post is not about my respect for Diane Keaton. It's about sadness. Sadness and young girls, because Keaton hits on a tragic, yet nonetheless solid, point. I think women far more than men find a time in their life-- often when they are 12/13/14 years of age -- when the sadness sets in. We realize beauty standards are basically unobtainable, we realize we are often relegated as a fixture of 'the male gaze' (now my feminist classes from college are cropping up), we realize that life for us more than men will be unfair and often cruel unless we are willing to play 'the game.' How can we not be sad?

For a recent example of this, look at Steve McQueen's haunting film Shame (which contains a stunning performance by Michael Fassbender). In the film the protagonist (Fassbender) repeatedly misuses women in an attempt to escape his own unhappiness. Here, women are portrayed as victims often to nothing more than a gaze. Fassbender, in one of the opening scenes, basically eye-rapes a woman sitting on the subway. It's a fragile scene that takes your breath away when you watch the myriad of expressions that pass through the woman's face -- flatter, intrigue, embarrassment, guilt (she sports a wedding ring), horror and self-loathing and most of all fear. Even though no man has followed me off the subway except to try to get a number (not to just go have casual sex), I know how she feels-- and I bet most women do, too.

I think many girls, like Keaton, manage this sadness by performing. We're expected to perform anyway, so why not make a career out of it? We perform by laughing off comments that might be meant kindly but are often chauvinistic. We perform by being good students and trying to make our teachers and parents proud. We perform by doing our best to look a certain way. We are continually performing. Frankly, those who don't are often shunned.

I'm not saying this is a sadness unfamiliar to men. My brother was often shunned at his high school because he did not perform/suck up to the teachers as expected. He refused to give an iota about how he looked. He was a free-thinker. And only now, after college, do I think he has found himself. That said, he's also accepted the need to perform. He acts a certain way during interviews, he has mastered the social contract.

Part of me mourns for my younger brother the rebel. But a larger part of me understands that he has just accepted what we all must learn to accept -- the necessity of performing, even if it's just a little bit. No man is truly a free thinker.

As Albert Einstein put it, “When I was a fairly precocious young man I became thoroughly impressed with the futility of the hopes and strivings that chase most men restlessly through life. Moreover, I soon discovered the cruelty of that chase, which in those years was much more carefully covered up by hypocrisy and glittering words than is the case today. By the mere existence of his stomach everyone was condemned to participate in that chase. The stomach might well be satisfied by such participation, but not man insofar as he is a thinking and feeling being."

So there you have it. You don't have to be a genius to know this one's right.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baking/Cooking Blogs

Since I am most well-known for writing The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook (available now on Amazon and at all major book retailers), I thought I'd list a few of my favorite food blogs.

First, there's Smitten Kitchen. I've been viewing this blog for ages now. While I mostly tried her desserts, I've recently ventured in to trying out some of her non-sweet dishes and man oh man, they're just as amazing. I really like Smitten Kitchen because she patiently explains how to do things. And the photos are amazing.

Speaking of amazing photos-- and basic culinary creativity, of which both these blogs have tons-- let's check out Sprinkle Bakes. Sprinkle Bakes is the most gorgeous dessert blog I've ever seen. I want THIS to be my wedding cake.

Both Smitten Kitchen and Sprinkle Bakes have cookbooks out which I plan to purchase immediately.

One Step Forward, One Step Back

It's funny. I wrote that piece a few days ago about "taking control" and yet I spent most of today unable to get out of bed because I made myself sick eating dairy the night before/having a bit of binge-eating going on.

Now, I know, I've been told by many nutritionists, that one or two nights of over-eating is not going to make me gain weight and become the HIDEOUS FAT MONSTER I fear becoming. (This is not to say overweight people are monsters, this is to show my own crazy anxiety brain being ridiculous.) But I still hate how that depression can still sneak up on me and cause me to loose an entire day.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be better tomorrow.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Accept The Jeans Or, My Life As a Kate Winslet Character

Today I woke up in my mother's apartment and considered putting on jeans. To most girls, this is a pretty familiar and downright common morning ritual. But for me, jeans have always held a great deal of anxiety.

In the seventh grade, I was best friends forever with this one girl, who I'll call Sophia. It was the kind of friendship/love I'd end up seeing replicated in that super creepy Kate Winslet movie Heavenly Creatures where the girl kills her friend's mother (based on the life of crime novelist Anne Perry, no joke). I adored Sophia. I'd do anything for her. It wasn't like a lesbian love, it was that deep love young girls feel for their bestest of friends.

in this picture I'm the one that's not Kate Winslet

Every day after school we would walk to McDonalds and order Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meals. Or, at least, I did. She often just got fries or a shake. During this period, I did not wear jeans. I'm not sure why, maybe it was the weather, maybe I was just way too into my cool skorts. We'd go to McDonalds for a 'second lunch,' then go home to our respective houses, do homework, and call each other. I'm serious when I say I would have taken a bullet for this girl, I loved her that much.

Anyway, as is also common for young girls, we had a falling out. There were a multiple of factors, she was cutting herself (also common for thirteen-year-olds), I was accused of lying, we both had fighting parents at home, I was smothering her... a lot of the blame likely lies on my feet. But the desolation I felt when I could no longer call Sophia my best friend was unbearable. It was worst than any breakup I've ever gone through, and I've had my heart shattered, resplintered, then shattered again. When Sophia and I ended, I wanted to die.

It was after this breakup that I tried to put on jeans, and I realized with horror that I simply could not fit in them anymore. Due to our frequent trips to McDonalds and the onset of puberty, I had suddenly gained a ton of weight. I was no longer "thin," I was portly-esque. And forever seared in my mind of this feeling of despair-- friendless, and now a fatty (again, the thoughts of a young girl) unworthy of love - have forever been wrapped up in how I feel about jeans.

I went to camp, lost the weight, whatever. I learned better eating habits. However, I refused to ever put on a pair of jeans again. I was the girl in high school who always wore skirts, and while most of my peers assumed this was to be 'different' and 'weird,' that wasn't totally the case. It was because I was terrified of how I'd feel in jeans.

Along with the jean anxiety, a fear of weight gain has haunted me. This fear likely did not originate with the Sophia-Jean debacle, but rather due to the fact that my mother had a proclivity towards over-exercise and anorexia when I was young, where instead of daycare I sat on an unused treadmill and watched her run for hours. Nonetheless, this anxiety came to head after a particularly bad breakup when I was still at USC. I learned to handle my depression by not eating, and glorifying in my newly discovered ribs. And suddenly I could wear jeans again.

Take, for example, this photo taken by my friend Francesca:

I look super healthy and happy there, right? Wrong. I weighed maybe 97 pounds and only ate sashimi. I was five steps away from becoming that dude on Entourage. This was after gaining eight pounds (so, being 89 pounds) when my mother threatened to send me to a mental hospital unless I "stopped being crazy." It was not a great time for me. But man, I got to wear jeans! Nice jeans, too. I was at the top of the world, like a gentleman from another great Kate Winslet movie:

Several years of therapy and such later, I can now where jeans when I weigh more than 95 pounds (a lot more, no worries). But every time I consider them, I have to check my mental confidence. Today, I didn't have enough confidence to wear anything other than an elastic skirt in an outfit similar to this one:

I realize that most won't see a great deal of difference between these two pictures, but to a recovering anorexic, there's a difference. And it will always be there, a little voice in my head telling me that my tummy is gross or my love handles won't hide forever. There's the voice telling me not to enjoy that soy latte or popcorn. But I tell it to shut the hell up, and usually that's enough. Because while I don't have Sophia's love, or that asshole ex boyfriend's love, I have something far more important: love of self. And love of friends and a wonderful supportive boyfriend who encourages eating of the carbs.

And with that love comes the knowledge that going down the path that involves me wearing my "skinny jeans" also means falling into a pit of despair where I eat nothing fun-- unless you count guessing how many pills of exlax you can swallow at one time as fun (I could swallow in one gulp about 12). This path also requires alienating and lying to the people I love, and getting extra hair on my arms. All for a concave stomach.

So I'll wear my regular jeans, be a regular girl. Being skinny is just too lonely, and is just too much hard work. If I'm going to be a Kate Winslet character, let it be the emotional (but otherwise halthy) Marianne Dashword-- lady gets to end up with hottie Alan Rickman. Lucky bitch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This just makes me happy.


Go Blow Yourself, Wind!

In case you haven't heard the news today, 350,000 people in Los Angeles County lost power due to epic winds. Nick's and my apartment in Los Feliz lost power around 11pm Wednesday night, and my mother's Pasadena apartment window was blown in and shattered all over the place. She, however, still has power-- so we're camping out at her place tonight. Though from the fallen foliage up an down her street, it's surprising how well she's fared.

I had no idea just how dependent I was on electricity until I lost it. (I know, same old story.) I was in the midst of reading House of Leaves (NOT a good book to lose power in your creepy old apartment while reading) when the power went, and reading by candlelight -- even if the candles are scented to smell like sunshine-- is a pain in the ass. They do not convey nearly enough light. And Nick wouldn't let me use his flashlight to read with due to fears about "conserving batteries."

We watched the Simpsons on DVD for as long as Nick's laptop battery would last, and then we were just forced to, I don't know, sit and talk to each other and then go to bed. While it was great for intimacy, it sucked for seeing.

Plus, by 11am the next morning, all our frozen food had spoiled. By 4pm, the non-frozen foods had perished. There should be insurance for food lost due to power outages. And now LA DWP informs us we have another 24 to 48 hours back until we have working appliances again.

This is NOT the East Coast. We are not used to our weather disasters here. Nobody knows what to do.

Anyway, there's no real point to this post other than I lost power and all I got was this lousy stress-headache.