Food for a Bibliovore
Not only is science fiction an idea of tremendous import, but it is to be an important factor in making the world a better place to live in, through educating the public to the possibilities of science and the influence of science on life which, even today, are not appreciated by the man on the street. … If every man, woman, boy and girl, could be induced to read science fiction right along, there would certainly be a great resulting benefit to the community, in that the educational standards of its people would be raised tremendously. Science fiction would make people happier, give them a broader understanding of the world, make them more tolerant. — Hugo Gernsback
I have a new short term life goal. I’m trying to read all the 2012 Hugo Award nominees before Chicon 7 (aka WorldCon) when the winners are announced. The Hugo Awards are “kind of a big deal” and were started by Hugo Gernsback, the founder of Amazing Stories which was THE original science fiction magazine launched in 1926. WorldCon has been running as a science fiction convention since 1939 and while I’ve never been, I’m aware it’s quite awesome. The cities rotate globally each year–gee what a shock for something called worldcon, and so the title changes based upon the city location. This summer it’s in Chicago and I betcha can’t guess how many times they’ve hosted…okay give up? This will be the seventh. Ha! Chicon 7.
Unfortunately since the list is quite long and I can barely steal time in the day to bathe (gross) much less read, I’ve had to shorten that expectation to reading all the Best Novels with the hopes that I’ll have the time to get to all the Best Graphic Stories as well.
I’m doing this because I have not been reading enough in the last two years. I have a list of books on my “to read” list a mile long and it’s become so overwhelmingly unbalanced against books I’ve actively, recently read that I began to have a panic attack about where to start. I know right? Who has panic attacks about book lists? Crazy people i.e. I do.
Admittedly the panic attack was more about how I don’t have time for anything anymore. A response to the fact that I have not read enough and feel like this passion I had was slipping away from me. Once upon a time I was reading two books a day as a child and a bibliophile to the core. Adulthood seems to rob many of us of that with the daily drudgery of work, relationships and exercise needed to combat dwindling metabolisms that no longer allow for whole boxes of girl scout cookies as an acceptable dinner alternative.
You might wonder why the Hugo Awards if I’m going to pick a list to start with? Well duh, I get to feast solely upon science and fantasy novels. It also gives my tackling of my book list some sort of focus. Simply pick one? I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens.
The Hugo Award Nominees for 2012 are:
- Among Others, Jo Walton
- A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin
- Deadline, Mira Grant
- Embassytown, China Miéville
- Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey
So far I’ve actually made a decent dent in this list. I may even try my hand at reviewing them. Right now I’ve been slowed down a bit by the fact that Deadline is a sequel and so I have a bonus book to read. I’m also incredibly lucky that I’ve been reading A Song of Ice and Fire all this time so getting to A Dance with Dragons was easy enough and in fact, I read that book ages ago. In the spirit of this endeavor I will most likely re-read Dance again and last. The anticipation I felt leading up to its release over the last SIX YEARS no doubt colored my initial reading. If I’m going to pick my own favorite from the Hugo Noms, I want to be as un-biased about it as possible. Well I mean, I’m going to be biased because it’s a decision based on preference but I don’t want it to be adulterated by the thrill of expectation and only based on merit of enjoyment of the material. If that makes any sense at all….
Anyway Gernsback, who started the Hugos, was a noted inventor and scientific utopianist. The man held 80 patents when he died but also had a bit of an unsavory reputation for being a crook where it concerned his treatment of writers. Such a mixed legacy to have the man who is unarguably a father to publishing in science fiction also be despised by those his role supported.
While Hugo may have been a bit of a miserly goat, you won’t find anything unsavory about this Goat Cheese Leek Tart. (HA segue achieved!) It’s delicious, it’s fattening, it’s out of this world orgasmic and that is all you need to know. If anything is going to win an award from this blog entry, it would be this.
Belgian Leek Tart with Aged Goat Cheese (Flamiche Aux Poireaux)
from Bon Appétit October 2008
- 4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
- 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup crumbled aged goat cheese, I used Cowgirl Creamery’s Garrotxa Goat
- 1 1/2 cups Leek Confit,if you don’t have any then slice up 2 1/2 cups leek and slowly sweat in oil on low heat for 30 minutes to release flavor and then cool
Combine 4 tablespoons ice water and cider vinegar in small bowl. Blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, slowly add water-vinegar mixture, processing until moist clumps form. If dough seems dry, add ice water by teaspoonfuls.
Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Allow dough to soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll dough out on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough onto bottom and up sides. Fold in overhang and press to extend dough 1/2 inch above sides of pan. Line pan with foil and dried beans or pie weights. Bake until dough looks dry and set, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and beans and continue to bake until crust is pale golden, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool while preparing filling.
Whisk milk, cream, egg, egg yolk, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over bottom of warm crust; spread leek confit over and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Pour milk mixture over. Bake until filling has puffed, is golden in spots, and center looks set, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool slightly. Remove pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.