Wednesday, February 17, 2010

MN authors featured - Nicole Johns and Scott Muskin

Nicole Johns and Scott Muskin have some things in common - they both are writers - they both live in Minnesota - they both graduated with MFAs in creative writing from the University of Minnesota - and they are BOTH on Realgoodwords this week. I happen to think the last similarity is the most important :)

That being said, their books are very different. Nicole Johns "Purge: Rehab Diaries" is remarkable in its honesty. She writes of her experience with and recovering from an eating disorder. Here's an excerpt:

An eating disorder is driving to a gas station in the midst of a blizzard and writing a bad check to buy dozens of stale doughnuts because they are being sold at the day-old discount price and you are ravenous because you have been starving yourself, again. Your car gets stuck in the middle of an intersection, your tires churn up wet snow, you're going nowhere as you cram doughnuts into your mouth, sugar circling your lips and chin, granules of sticky sugar on the steering wheel, and you don't care that there is oncoming traffic, a light is about to change, and the tires are spinning. All you care about is making it back to the apartment before your roommate gets off work, in time to stick the index finger of your right hand down your inflamed throat so that doughnut pieces will heave their way up your esophagus and plummet into the toilet bowl.

Scott Muskin's first novel, "The Annunciations of Hank Meyerson, Mama's Boy and Scholar"is up for a 2009 MN Book Award for Fiction. This is what the book jacket says of it:

Hank Meyerson isn’t the whiny sort of mama’s boy. He’s more the wry, shaggy, chubby sort—an over-thinker, a ranter, and sometimes a crier. He adores Emily Dickinson. He kibitzes. He has the audacity to fall in love with his sister-in-law.

Plus, he mentions KAXE on his webpage!

Minnesota is such a great state for creativity and especially writers, like the two newer voices you'll hear on Realgoodwords this week. Got a MN author to recommend? Email me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This week on Realgoodwords: Love and Love gone wrong

Valentine's Day is this week and on Realgoodwords I talk with one of my favorite authors, Adriana Trigiani. Her new book is out, the 2nd in the Valentine series called "Brava Valentine". Adriana is as engaging as her novels, and in our conversation you'll hear her promise that she's coming to the Iron Range of Minnesota soon and will start writing a series about it.

We'll talk about love gone wrong with Maria Finn too... she found out her husband was cheating and instead of committing a crime, she found Tango. See her author video for more information. Maria has a contest on her website for writers - send in 100-200 words about heartbreak and you may be the winner. See here for more information.

And Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Is Potica Bread? Check out this recipe!

Last week on Between You and Me and Realgoodwords we talked about bread with listeners.... you can see the bread recipes that were submitted here.

Kim Ode was our guest - she's a StarTribune reporter and wrote a book about her passion for bread called "Baking With the St. Paul Bread Club - Recipes, Tips & Stories". We talked about some of the family recipes that represent this place where we live. She suggested trying the recipe submitted by baker Pat Roberts who includes a recipe for Walnut Potica.* Kim says to NOT be put off by the length of this recipe, that it is totally worth it. She also suggests making it with someone else.

WALNUT POTICA from "Baking With the St. Paul Bread Club" by Kim Ode
makes 5-6 loaves

1 1/2 c lowfat milk
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
5 to 6 cups bread flour

1/2 c unsalted butter
1 1/2 c lowfat milk
2 c granulated sugar
1/2 scant cup honey
2 1/2 lbs English walnuts, about 10 cups
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

Heat milk to 120 degrees F. In the bowl of a mixer, combine sugar and butter. Add milk, and mix until combined. Add yeast, salt, and beaten eggs, and mix. With mixer running, add flour, 1 cup at a time, but not more than 5 cups. Dough should be soft to moderatley firm, not stiff. If kneading with a dough hook, knead about 15 minutes, or, if by hand, 30 minutes, adding flour sparingly. Dough should be elastic and have air bubbles no larger than 1/4 inch. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours. Be patient; this dough doesn't like to be rushed.

Using a food processor and working in small batches, grind nuts until uniformly fine, being careful not to grind to a paste. Heat milk in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pan, preferably cast iron. Add butter until melted, and then add walnuts, sugar, and honey. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Don't let it scorch! Temper eggs by whisking in small amount of boiling mixture, and then add tempered eggs to nut mixture. Cook for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. Don't let it scorch! Set aside until dough has risen.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take a large, clean piece of fabric - an old sheet or a tablecoth - and spread over a large table, making a smooth, unmoving surface. Flour generously. Take off any rings or bracelets. Place dough in middle of table, and using fingertips, pull dough from underneath, slowly stretching toward table edges. Take your time. If a hole appears, don't patch it. Keep pulling until the dough is as thin as onionskin. It will cover an area about five feet long by three feet wide.

Spread 1/2 c melted butter over dough. next, using a spatula, drop dollops of nut filling all over dough, and gently spread until entire surface is covered with a very thin coating. Cut off any thick edges of dough.

Remove tape, and holding on to cloth, lift one long edge, using it to roll dough inot a long cylinder. (Make sure it doesn't roll off the other side of the table.) Lay five or six greased 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans along roll for a guide, and then with the edge of a teacup saucer (a saucer seals the ends better than a knife can), cut dough into pan-sized lengths. Place each piece seam side down in a pan. Prick each piece four times with a fork.

Bake on middle rack of oven for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 325 degrees F, lightly cover loaves with aluminum foil, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. When done, loaves should be medium to dark brown and loose when pan is lightly shaken. Do not underbake. Remove from pans, and cool on wire rack.

These freeze well if tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

*potica is pronounced po-teets-sah