Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I noticed the other day that, aside from being the lamest blogger ever, I haven't really updated my stats for my faithful fan base (you listening, mom?). In the last three months, I've had posts about killer tomatoes, blogging delusions of grandeur and buying chic notebooks and matching pencils at Barnes & Noble (which might explain why my fan base is basically my mom...she does find these things fascinating). However, I've given no info about the status of my book querying. Or the status of anything else, for that matter (except our freakish garden). So, here goes:

Queries sent to agents: 66
Full/partial requests: 7
Full/partials still outstanding: 4
Query rejections: 35
Queries close due to no response: 24
Months pregnant: 8 1/2
Gallons of ice cream consumed over last 8 1/2 months: 400
Number of donuts consumed over last 8 1/2 months: 78
Pregnancy pounds gained: 35lbs
Hopeful weight of baby: 35lbs
Real estimated weight of baby: 6 lbs
Number of lunges/squats I'll have to do to eradicate superfluous 29 pounds: 4,783,987,213,876
Number of times my son has told me I have a chubby tummy and that I should get on the treadmill: 54
Number of times I've hid his favorite Light Saber: 54
Estimated bouts of pregnancy rage: 8
Number of establishments I won't be showing my face for a while due to aforementioned pregnancy rage: 6
Number of times I've tried to talk husband into naming the baby Leia: 14
Number of times I've gotten husband to agree to naming the baby Leia: 1
Number of times husband has reneged on his agreement to name the baby Leia, claiming he agreed simply because I was in the midst of honking up dinner and he felt sorry for me: 1
Percentage of excitement over having yet another "most awesome child in the history of time" (regardless of her name): 4 Bazillion %
Number of times I've felt like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world: 6,000,000,000,000,001

For those non-writery types, the query stats may look downright pathetic. But in reality, they're actually pretty good. Considering most queries end up in a slush graveyard, to have even one actually a) read through by an agent and b) spark enough interest for a partial or full request is a true feat in itself. You have to understand that, though the book publishing industry is a business, it's all based on emotional reaction. You're not just trying to pique an agent's interest. You're trying to make them fall in love with your work. To the point that they'd want to take it dancing and buy it chocolates. That's a difficult thing to accomplish, especially when they're being bombarded every day by hundreds of other writers that want the same exact thing. I've realized that the best you can do is to just do what you do. Write what you love, send it out into the world and hope that someone decides to love it. Putting any more emotional stock into the process will result in lots of frustration, resentment and anger. And that's not good for our calm, right?

And for those non-pregnant types, the childbearing stats may look downright pathetic. And you would be mostly right. I fully blame my girth on the on and off (mostly on) morning-all day-night sickness. One minute I'm dry heaving at the scent of bananas and next I'm chain-swallowing Oreos. If I wasn't pregnant, I could totally be on one of those TLC shows about people with bizarre, OCD eating behavior, huddled on the kitchen floor at three in the morning eating all the Halloween candy left over from last year. (Just fyi...Nerds mixed with Bottle Caps are a match made in heaven).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

This is our official SOS call. We need help. We are being overrun by creepy , mutant red orbs from outer space. Okay, maybe not from outer space, but from out back yard, which, at times, can be considered outer space, full of UFOs (weird, icky bugs) and asteroids (squirrels chucking acorns from trees). See, my husband decided that this year we were going to have a garden, and when the man gets a plan in his head, there is no turning back. However, having never successfully maintained a garden in the past, we went a little crazy with our seedlings, assuming that half (if not all) of them would surely die a miserable death. Well, they didn't.

Perhaps you've sat back at some point in your life and pondered, "I wonder how many tomato plants are TOO many."

This is too many:

There are approximately 25 plants there, each bearing about 15-20 tomatoes each.

Now, hubby is a tomato lover. However, I am useless in the tomato appreciation department. Currently I am about seven hundred months pregnant, and I find them rather evil since just looking at them gives me a raging case of heartburn. But my complete aversion to wasting food has forced me to push through, and one day I made Tyler Florence's Roasted Tomato Soup. If you, too, find yourself in tomato hell, I highly recommend this soup. It was delicious. I had to eat about four thousand Tums afterwards, but it was worth it.

First you roast the tomatoes with garlic and onion, which will make your house smell like complete awesome:

Then you throw all the roasted goodness in a pot with some chicken stock, bay leaf and butter (*sigh*):

Then you add about a cup of fresh basil (also growing like coo-coo in our garden) and puree the heck out of it, then finish it with little bit of heavy cream. Pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich and you've got yourself a fine meal (Tums notwithstanding).

This soup was made with the tomatoes we picked in ONE day, mind you. Three days later we had just as many and I still had heartburn. Yes, there is canning, but a) I am not exactly the country, farming wifey type and b) canning requires effort, and just walking up the stairs to find a kleenex is more than my inflated, child bearing butt can handle these days. Besides, I have to conserve my energy for eating ice cream. If I don't, I might not reach my goal weight of "whale", and what a shame that would be. So for now, I'm resorting to giving them away to neighbors, friends, family, the mailman and the annoying people that come to my door trying to sell me gutter cleaning services, and slipping them into every single one of my hubby's meals (who says tomatoes on pancakes is weird???). If you happen to live in my area, and are need of homegrown, organic tomatoes for FREE, just let me know. You too can make soup and get heartburn. Sounds fun, yes?

Anyway, here's the recipe for the soup:

Roasted Tomato Soup
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced
  • Vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, optional


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.