Holidays, Deals, and Honey Cakes
Newsletter 05: December 2021
Hello everyone! It’s the holidays. So I’m compressing my publishing schedule a bit. You’ll be getting a one-two punch of holiday cheer (?) from me this month. First up, is this newsletter. Then, next week, I’ll be debuting a new holiday sci-fi short story! It’s called “Kriznas on Station 893.” It’s weird. I have no idea where it came from, really, when I wrote it a couple months ago. And I like it. I hope you will too!
You Want Deals? I Got Deals!
For the month of December, my publisher Gurt Dog Press has discounted the eBooks of their entire line! That means you can get the Amazon eBook of In the Dark of the Grove for just $6.99! Or, you can find the book on Smashwords and get it for 20% off with the offer code KK55F. Both sites make it SUPER easy to give as a gift, too.
🎵 Holiday! Celebrate! 🎵
For the last few years, I’ve drawn an image for the holiday cards that my partner and I have sent out. I’m very proud of this year’s image but it’s a secret until it reaches it’s addressees. I’ll show it in January and on social later this month. However, I thought it’d be fun to collect the past year’s images here:
From the Journals…
I’ve slowly been getting back to doing some journaling. It’s been busy, with the launch of In the Dark of the Grove. I’ve also been doing a lot of other writing. But journaling is a good exercise. I like being able to go back and look at my thoughts at a certain point. I probably don’t do enough personal journaling anymore. Another thing I’d like to get back to more. Here are a couple highlights, in case you missed them:
Why is This Happy Event Making Me So Depressed/Anxious?
In this, I wrote about the intense bout of depression and anxiety leading up to the release of my book, how it took me by surprise, and how it actually helped me in the end. Read the full journal.
Doctor Who, In Flux
I’ve wrestled with the 13th Doctor’s era. But, honestly, my slow disengagement with a property I’ve loved since I was eight has gone on longer than that. I keep trying to like the most recent incarnation of Who. And there are times I have liked it very much. But, Flux was rough for me. It built me up, only to eventually let me down. You can read my further thoughts on it here.
Things I’ve Greatly Enjoyed
A slightly abbreviated TIGE this month, since it hasn’t been that long ago since my November newsletter. There’s other stuff I could have squeezed in, and I’m sure there’s more to come in the rest of the month. But this felt like the cream of the crop from the last couple of weeks:
The Power of the Dog
This one sort of came out of nowhere and punched me in the face with how good it was. Going in knowing as little as possible is the way I’d recommend it. It has Benedict Cumberbatch’s best performance to date. And he’s joined by a uniformly excellent cast including Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and a haunting performance by Kodi Smit-McPhee. You can read my review at Letterboxd here.
The Wheel of Time
The beloved fantasy book series becomes an Amazon Prime series. It’s a book series I’ve never read, as I tend to be scared away by fantasy series whose book count exceeds three. That being said, the show has made me rethink this. Because so far, I’ve absolutely loved the show. As I write this, we’re five episodes in (of an eight-episode season) and the scope and world-building is top-notch. Even better, the characters are very strongly written and portrayed. Rosamund Pike leads the cast expertly as Moiraine. I’m a complete nut for wizards and sorcerers and the like, and the Aes Sedai in WoT are such a cool concept with their different factions and politics.
The youngsters from Two Rivers are equally as compelling. I really liked Josha Stradowski’s performance in the Dutch gay romantic comedy Just Friends. Yes, he’s gorgeous, but he also put in a great performance. So I wasn’t surprised to find him doing great work as Rand. Most of the rest of the cast, though, is new to me. There’s not a weak link in the bunch. PS— keep scrolling for my recipe for honey cakes, as featured in the Wheel of Time!
Tarot. The Library of Esoterica
My partner got me this last Christmas, and I’m finally getting around to reading it. I find the tarot fascinating. I got the Thoth deck a few years back, and have read a book on it as well. The tarot might set off alarm bells for you. Perhaps you’re screaming “Darksided!” at the screen right now. Or maybe you’re thinking it’s a little too woo-woo for you. But the history of tarot is actually not particularly mystical until the late 1880s. And many practitioners of it today don’t necessarily think of it as a fortune telling device. Some use it as a tool for self-healing and for getting “out of your own head” by using the cards (and the larger concepts they represent) to gain a new perspective. It’s all really fascinating stuff. The book gives some history on the tarot, and then goes through the cards, complete with beautiful illustrations from various decks.
There’s more Psychochronograph below! But if you’re liking what I’m writing, how about subscribing and supporting my work? It’s very much appreciated.
The Wolf Prince & The Toymaker’s Boy
November of last year, a story entered my head and would not leave. I wrote it out quickly, liked it, and then had the insane idea of turning it into a storybook. If you’ve not had a chance to watch the folk tale, I’d like to invite you to watch it now:
Honey Cake Recipe (as featured in The Wheel of Time and The Hobbit*)
The holidays equal The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to me. I was listening to a Wheel of Time podcast (The Wheel Weaves Watches) and one of the hosts made honey cakes for their watch-through. It seems honey cakes made their way into that world as well! Well, it never occurred to me that people would have tried to make a recipe for them! In fact, there are a lot out there. None of them were quite like what I envisioned in my mind. This recipe takes most of its inspiration from The Gingered Whisk honey cake recipe, with my own adaptations.
1 cup flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, allowed to sit at room temp.
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
3/4 + 1/4 cup honey**
1 tsp vanilla
**A note about the honey. This is the star attraction of a honey cake, so now’s not the time to skimp if you can! I used a Buckwheat honey. It’s not as sweet as regular honey, and it’s got a nice finish of molasses to it.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Use the 3 tbsps of butter to liberally grease a muffin tin. You can use a brush, a napkin, or even your fingers—just get a generous amount of butter in there so the muffins will come out quick and easy.
Add the flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest to a bowl and mix together.
Next, take the 1/2 cup of butter (aka a stick) and break it up in the bowl containing the dry mix above. You can use a fork, but I’d recommend just cutting the butter into slices, and then using your clean hands to break it up and mix with the dry mixture. You want to do this until you can see small lumps of butter throughout the mixture. The dry ingredients stick to it and create a sandy texture.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, 3/4 cup honey, and vanilla. Make sure it’s good and incorporated and you can’t see any egg yolk remnants.
Pour this liquid mixture over the dry ingredients. Now, you want to combine them until JUST mixed. To do this, I use a spatula, pushing down from the side of the bowl, under, and then folding it over. You want to make sure there’s no dry loose bits hiding from you. But you don’t want to mix it too much.
Add the batter into the greased muffin tins. It filled the muffin tin (with 12 wells) about 3/4 of the way up.
Put in the oven, and cook for 10 minutes. They’ll rise a bit, and have some color, but won’t be fully golden yet.
Carefully remove the honey cakes from the muffin tin. Despite my copious buttering, I had to coax them out with a little knife around the edges. But they came out pretty easily. Place them onto a lined baking sheet. I used parchment paper, but tin foil should work as well.
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup honey in the microwave, about 10-15 seconds depending on it’s wattage. Brush the honey mixture onto the tops of the cakes. You don’t have to be too careful here. They can drip down the sides. Also, if you have any warmed-up honey left after coating the tops of all the cakes, just keep adding more on top! Use all that delicious honey up.
Leave the cakes to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. You’re giving the honey time to soak into the top, and it’s totally worth it.
Bake for about another 10 minutes. I’d recommend checking them around the 8 minute mark since ovens can vary, but mine needed the full 10 minutes to get golden brown.
That’s it! Now, I’d recommend having at least ONE while its still warm. I had mine with a frosty mug of milk and it was amazing. But they’re just as good cool, too, with a cup of coffee. They are crispy on the outside, with a fairly dense and tight inside. Using cornmeal gives it a slight cornbread flavor, and a little more chew, but without the grittiness cornbread can have. It creates a slightly drier and more rustic-tasting cake, but it’s still moist overall, and the honey-soaked top is bursting with flavor. I liked that this hovered somewhere between a dessert and a muffin with its sweetness level. If you don’t use buckwheat honey, it’ll most likely taste sweeter.
*And probably many other fantasy series!
Scenes from Gay Domesticity
True snippets of my life with my partner.
Morning Amusements / November 26, 2019
Backstory: Paul has been trying to get the vinyl of Nick Cave's amazing new album, Ghosteen, from Amazon. But it's arrived damaged twice. He gave me an update this morning as I came down the stairs, saying they just refunded his money versus giving him a new copy.
Me: ♪ Ghosteen, Ghosteen, Ghosteeeen, Ghosteeeeeen ♪
(A beat as I wait for a reaction)
Me: That was me, singing Ghosteen, to the tune of "Jolene" by Dolly Parton. This was meant to amusing.
Paul: It's too early to be amused!
Your Monthly Memorable Internet Image
A not-by-me image I stumbled upon.
A Couple More Things…
Just some odds and ends. First of all, I hate to beg (but I shall) for everyone who has read In the Dark of the Grove to leave a review on Amazon. And Goodreads, if you’re feeling adventurous. People trust other people’s opinions on stuff. Oh, and the Amazon algorithm likes reviews too. Please never feel like you need to give five whole stars either! I’m fairly stingy with those myself.
Also, remember “The Victorian Way” videos I talked about last time? A drag duo by the name of Novympia did a parody of them and it’s pretty much perfect. Even English Heritage gave their stamp of approval!