Huge VNSA Book Sale in Phoenix this Weekend

Posted by on Feb 10, 2017 in Blog, others books | 0 comments

My husband knows that for Valentine’s Day each year, I don’t want jewelry. I don’t want stupidly overpriced flowers that will be dead in a week. I don’t want a dinner out at some crowded restaurant. Nope. I want a trip to the VNSA Book Sale at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

VNSA

The VNSA Sale in 2015.

This event takes place the second weekend of February each year, and it’s GINORMOUS. One of the biggest book sales in the country. Years ago, I fought the crowds and lines to be among the first in the door on Saturday, but I have found that I much prefer Sunday. The selection is picked over, yes, but the crowds are fewer AND most of the books are half off.

If you’re in the Phoenix area, check out the sale website for info. The event itself is free, but you have to pay to park. Also, be sure to bring your own hand cart or a sturdy tote bag. Shopping carts are few and always in use.

Note that I’m not actually affiliated with the sale in any way. I’m just a hardcore reader who loves to share the joy with other hardcore readers. If you go, I wish you all the best in your treasure hunt!

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Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Blog, Bready or Not, side dish, yeast bread | 0 comments

This recipe for Hokkaido-style milk bread rolls makes 8 delicious soft, airy, amazing rolls.

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

I couldn’t help but be intrigued when I saw this recipe featured in a King Arthur Flour catalog. It relates to the cultural fusion that plays a major role in my latest book, Breath of Earth.

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

See, yeast breads in Japan were a real life kind of steampunk innovation. European bakeries began to open in major Japanese cities in the 1800s, but they didn’t become more popular until later in the century when bakers began to fuse more Japanese flavors like adzuki paste into rolls. These kinds of sweet bread (kashi-pan) play a small yet vital role in my next book, Call of Fire.

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

This particular roll isn’t sweet unless you add some jam on your own. These are more of a combination between a standard dinner roll and an egg-based bread like challah.

I usually don’t make breads that involve a pre-ferment stage, but I was pleased with how easy this was to make. I had the dough mix and rise in my bread machine, but you can mix this by whatever method you choose.

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

This is modified from the recipe at King Arthur Flour. They note there that this can also be made in loaf form. I also have my own recipe for doing a full loaf of Japanese-style Milk Bread (Shokupan). This is my usual load bread that I make about twice a week.

I can tell you, my husband wouldn’t mind if I made these rolls a lot more frequently as well.

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

This recipe, modified from King Arthur Flour, produces 8 airy and delicious Hokkaido-style milk bread rolls. It uses a fermented starter called a tangzhong that is mixed into the bread dough.

  • Tangzhong (starter)
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk or half & half
  • 2 Tablespoons bread flour
  • Dough
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or half & half
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter
  • optional: an egg or extra milk for a wash

To make the tangzhong:

Combine the starter ingredients in a small saucepan on low heat. Whisk until no lumps remain and continue to beat until it's thick and the whisk leaves no lines across the bottom of the pan; this takes 3 to 5 minutes. Pour it into a cup and set it aside to cool to room temperature.

To make the dough:

Combine the remaining dough ingredients and add the tangzhong. Continue to knead by hand, mixer, or bread machine until a smooth, elastic dough forms. Add more milk or flour if necessary to achieve the right texture.

Shape the dough into a ball and set it in a lightly greased covered bowl for about 60 to 90 minutes. It should be puffy, not necessarily doubled in size.

Prepare a small cake pan by lining the bottom with a cut round of parchment paper. Use nonstick spray on the base of the pan so the parchment stays in place, then spray the top of the paper and the sides of the pan.

Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place them in the pan. Cover it with plastic wrap and let the rolls rest for 30 minutes to an hour; keep an eye on them in case they rise fast!

Preheat the oven at 350-degrees. Gently brush the rolls with milk or an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water).

Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are golden brown on top. To check for doneness, use a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the middle roll to see if it is at least 190°F. If the rolls must cook longer, cover them with foil if they are very brown.

Remove rolls from the oven. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Bready or Not: Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

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Breath of Earth on the Locus List!

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in anthology:story, awards, Blog, breath of earth | 0 comments

Huh. Breath of Earth made the 2016 Recommended Reading List at Locus in the Fantasy category. How about that?!

Breath of Earth

This is the time of year when initial nominations are due soon for some major genre awards. The Nebula deadline is February 15th. I do hope folks keep Breath of Earth in mind. It’s available for sale at all the usual places and is also found in many libraries worldwide.

I’m also asking readers to consider my story “The Souls of Horses” from Clockwork Phoenix 5–which also made the Locus list under anthologies! Ellen Datlow recommended my story on Twitter and it was also called out in a starred Publishers Weekly review of the anthology. The story can be read for free in its entirety online. If you’re a SFWA member, the PDF is available for download in the forums; look in the 2016 short stories section. Actually, take a look in the novel section, too. You might find some pleasant surprises.

Clockwork Phoenix 5

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Sunday Quote thinks there’s some sports thing today?

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in Blog, Quote | 0 comments

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
~Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

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