Friday, September 05, 2003

The post with the porridge recipe

A couple of replies in to America's query. One from someone who worked in a comic shop (hi Jinx)

just wanted to pass on to America that comic shops are great and finding a good local one will far outweigh the momentary feeling like a poser. Local comic shops are lovely and need to be supported, even if they are death on my budget. The few places that look upon non-regulars are few and far between these days.
As well as 1602 is lovely and understandable if you're not a comic junkie like me. My Mother read it today at the hospital (she took my purse by mistake, and no it wasn't serious, just normal treatment) and was all over me to find out when the next one came out.

Tracey who worked at her local shop for 10 years

and one from a friendly New Yorker who just went into a comic shop for the first time...

I'd like to assure you and America--both the person and the entire country--that 1602 is enjoyable even for those who aren't Marvel experts. I'd never read any Marvel comics (or any comics at all!) but obviously some of the characters are well enough known that even if you've never read the actual comics you'll recognize them because they've popped up in movies, television series, and other pop culture media. I knew while reading that I was missing a lot, but I was able to follow things perfectly well and got to have a few "haha, I know who THAT is" moments.

I'd also like say that when I went to buy 1602 it was my very first time inside a comic store. I went to midtown comics in Manhattan and I definitely felt lost and stupid at first, but there were so many different types of people around me that I didn't feel like people would see me and think "what's SHE doing here?" I had no idea where to look at first but I just took my time and scanned the walls till I spotted the shelf labeled with new arrivals, and there 1602 was. I felt very proud of myself as I walked to the register to make my purchase. And if I hadn't found it that easily I'd have just asked one of the numerous friendly-looking people in the store. Comic book enthusiasts strike me as the sort who'd be eager to help out a newbie and view him/her as someone to welcome into the fold rather than as a poser.

--Tsippa, who has been craving Salsa ever since you wrote about it.

Mostly, they are, especially at the good stores. (Midtown Comics is a good store.)

Incidentally, Amazon has now put up a link to Robert Silverberg's LEGENDS II anthology, and it now has a publication date of December 30th.

Having grumbled in the last entry about a journalist trying to write a funny article and failing, here's a link to a journalist trying to write a funny article and succeeding. It's from the Guardian, and concerns someone spending 24 hours in a perspex box. Just like David Blaine is going to. Only Blaine's going to do it for a couple of months, and without cashews.

and changing the subject completely...

I am looking for a particular book with illustrations by Dave McKean.
I believe the story goes something like this: Mrs.Baxter takes in some
stray cats (which apparently look rather like griffins) and then Mr. Baxter
disappears, apparently eaten by cat-griffins. Thought you might know.
Thanks for any help. NR, In WNY

Sounds like you've heard a bit about MirrorMask, the film I wrote that Dave McKean has directed. You'll have to wait until sometime in 2004 to see it, I'm afraid.


Regarding the World's Best Porridge Recipe that you perfected on Wednesday...could you post it, please? My beloved housemate just had all four impacted wisdom teeth pulled and any chewing on his part is thus out of the question for the foreseeable future. He complains constantly, gushing blood with every whine. World's Best Porridge would therefore be much appreciated by all concerned. Thanks! - Eve

I wasn't going to, but you ask so nicely, and then there's the blood and the whine... One of the drawbacks of the World's Best Porridge Recipe for those purposes is that it's slightly chewy, which is part of the charm.

Having experimented with porridge recipes for years now, this one sort of came together in a bunch of "what if I tried..."s that actually worked.

You need two kinds of oats for it to work. Normal rolled oats (not instant oats), and also steel-cut oats (I use McCanns but I'm sure any brand would do).

(Okay. It's not Healthy, though. Or Sensible. I feel like I ought to mention that. It's the sort of porridge I'd break out to impress guests with, rather than eat every morning.)

Begin with a saucepan. Take a generous couple of tablespoonfuls of butter, and melt them in the saucepan over a low light.

Add about a tablespoonful of McCann's Steel Cut Oats. Let it start to cook in the butter. Add about three-quarters of a cupful of normal rolled oats, and a little less than half a teaspoon of coarse seasalt. Let it all cook in the butter, on a low heat, stirring it around a bit with a wooden spoon. Don't let it burn. Pretty soon, everything will start to smell like oatmeal cookies, and the oats will be browning well, and will have absorbed all the butter, and people will be saying "That smells nice, are you cooking something?" (If it goes black and people ask if they should open the windows, you let it burn. Start again.)

At this point add a couple of cups of boiling water. Bring it back to the boil and "spirtle" (stir vigorously). Let it cook for about ten minutes over a medium to low heat, stirring whenever you remember. Somewhere in there I normally add a little more water, and as it thickens at the end, I stir more.

After about ten minutes, it'll be done. Put it into a bowl. Drizzle real maple syrup on. Pour thick cream over that. Put spoon in. Eat.

(I suppose the maple syrup can be replaced with sugar or honey or no sweetener at all. The steel cut oats add some texture to the whole. The frying the oats gently in butter is there to make you feel guilty and seems to make the whole thing work.)