Friday, December 31, 2010

Perfect Boiled Water


Everybody thinks they know how to boil water.  Many - if not most of them - are deluded.  Boiling water is not as easy as it appears to be.  However, by following a few simple guidelines, it is within anyone’s reach.

1. Use a metal pot.  Wooden and plastic pots will not work! 

2. Fill the metal pot with a quantity of water that is less than the total volume of the pan.

3. Use real water!  Gasoline, alcohol, and lacquer thinner will boil, but you will not get boiling water from them.

4. Put the pot on the stove.  This is important.  You must use a stove!  Refrigerators, dishwashers, and KitchenAid stand mixers will not boil water, no matter how long you leave it on.

5. Turn on the burner directly beneath the pot.  Turning on the wrong burner will not boil water!

6. Give the water time to come to a boil.  On most stoves, you can adjust the amount of time required by changing the burner setting (consult the manual that came with your stove).

7. Do not watch the pot!  Watching the pot of water will increase the time it takes to come to a boil!  Simply glance at the water from time to time until you observe large numbers of “bubbles” rising to the surface.

8. Once the water is boiling, you can let it boil for a while, or you can turn off the burner – it’s up to you!

Coming soon: How to Make Ice Cubes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Self-Indulgent Post About Book Shelves

There are many ways to arrange books.  If you are an interior designer, you might arrange them by color and size.  A history buff might order them according to period, or by publication date.  Someone with limited shelf space might stack them every which way, to take up as little room as possible.  You could arrange them by author, by page count, by publisher, or by frequency of use.   You could employ the liquor store technique, arranging them by quality, putting the best books on the top shelf.

Not long ago I was making a promotional video in my basement with Max and Nick, two men in their early twenties.  Max was directing, Nick was operating the camera.  (Click here to view Part One of the movie we were making)

Making a movie—even a very short video—involves a lot of sitting around and waiting.  During one of these periods (waiting for a battery to charge), Nick was looking over my bookshelves.  He became excited when he found my almost-complete collection of Philip K. Dick novels and story collections.  Max was interested in Dick’s writing, too. 

As was I, when I was their age.

My books are arranged, roughly, in alphabetical order by author and by genre—sci-fi against the east wall, crime fiction in the next bookcase, comic books to the west, and so forth. 

It occurred to me, watching Nick and Max flipping through the Phil Dick books, that it might be interesting to arrange my books according to the age at which I first read them.

First would be my tattered copy of Brave Cowboy Bill, a Little Golden Book from the 1950s.  Among the last, as of this writing, would be Explorers of the New Century, by Magnus Mills.

Here’s a list of books that made a big impression on me, roughly arranged by the age at which I read them. (OCD much?) I’ve tried to be honest here, even though a few of the titles make me squirm to think that I bought into them at any age.  I only allowed myself one book per author.  

Age 4-7
The Little Engine that Could —“Watty Piper” and others
Brave Cowboy Bill —Kathryn Jackson

8-12
Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint — R. Abrashkin and J. Williams
Charlotte’s Web —E.B. White
A Wrinkle in Time —Madeleine L'Engle
Tom Sawyer —Mark Twain
Lord of the Flies —William Golding
“The Hardy Boys” —“Franklin W. Dixon”
Wild Trek —Jim Kjelgaard
White Fang —Jack London

12-16
Strangest of All —Frank Edwards
The Source —James Michener
The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy) —J.R.R.Tolkien
Cat of Many Tails —Ellery Queen
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
The Human Comedy —William Saroyan
Atlas Shrugged —Ayn Rand
The Pearl —John Steinbeck
Cat’s Cradle —Kurt Vonnegut
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold —John LeCarre
Tai Pan —James Clavell
Brave New World —Aldous Huxley

17-25
The Idiot —Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Teachings of Don Juan —Carlos Castenada
The Sun Also Rises —Ernest Hemingway
The Puppet Masters —Robert Heinlein
Triton —Samuel R. Delany
Nausea —Jean Paul Sartre
Martian Time-Slip —Philip K. Dick
The Immoralist —Andre Gide
Madame Bovary —Gustave Flaubert
The Savage Mind —Claude Levi-Strauss
The Structure of Art —Jack Burnham
Rogue Moon —Algis Budrys
Junky —William Burroughs
Mushrooms of North America —Orson K. Miller
Dune —Frank Herbert
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test —Tom Woolf
The Stranger —Albert Camus

25-30
Rebecca —Daphne du Maurier
In Cold Blood —Truman Capote
The Big Sleep —Raymond Chandler
“Solid Objects” —Virginia Woolf
The Elements of Style —William Strunk and E. B. White
Dubliners —James Joyce
The Left Hand of Darkness —Ursula LeGuin
The Adventures of Alyx —Joanna Russ
Baby is Three —Theodore Sturgeon
A Sweet, Sweet Summer —Jane Gaskell
The French Lieutenant’s Woman —John Fowles
The Great Gatsby —F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Stars My Destination —Alfred Bester
The Postman Always Rings Twice —James Cain

30s
Deliverance —James Dickey
Dog Soldiers —Robert Stone
The Book of the New Sun (tetralogy) —Gene Wolfe
The Cream of the Jest —James Branch Cabell
Unknown Man No. 89 —Elmore Leonard
Leaving Cheyenne —Larry McMurtry
Wild Seed —Octavia Butler
Falconer —John Cheever
The Talented Mr. Ripley —Patricia Highsmith

40s and 50s
The Remains of the Day —Kazuo Ishiguro
Lyonesse (trilogy) —Jack Vance
The Silence of the Lambs —Thomas Harris
Expendable —James Alan Gardner
The Ice House —Minette Walters
Maus —Art Spiegleman
The Fourth Durango —Ross Thomas
Duchamp —Calvin Tomkins
Spin —Robert Charles Wilson
Explorers of the New Century —Magnus Mills

Stats
Total Books: 72
Books by men: 60
Books by women: 12
Books by Americans: 45+
Books by British and Irish authors: 10+
Books by authors of other nationalities: 10+
Books by African-Americans: 2+
Books written before I was born: 25
Books written by authors who are deceased: 40+
Books by gay authors: 10+
Sci-Fi/Fantasy books: 20+
Crime/Mystery books: 10+
Listed authors I’ve read more than one book by: 61
Listed books I’ve read more than once: 33

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

True Love

I just got my first look at the paperback edition of How to Steal a Car (available January 1), and I love love love the cover, oh yes I do. 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Christmas Card

This year, in honor of the beached economy, Mary and I ordered a very small quantity of holiday cards.  You probably didn't get one.  Don't feel bad.  Neither did my mom.  Anyway, here's the card.


The poem is by Mary Logue, of course.  Photo and design by me.  The Adelie penguin is by Rowbike inventor Scott Olson.  (You can buy your own penguin.)


I'll post a new picture of the penguin tomorrow - after we get the 18 inches of snow we've been promised.

Friday, December 10, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different


Thirty years ago, as a Christmas gift for a friend, I wrote a novella based upon the characters and world created by Kenneth Grahame in his classic book The Wind in the Willows. I called it "Beneath the Wild Wood."

"Beneath the Wild Wood" is not an attempt to “channel” Grahame.  I took considerable liberties with character, setting, and language—though no more than did Grahame himself. It was never intended as a commercial venture, and has since been seen by only a handful of readers. I thought that some of you—after cursing me roundly for messing with a Sacred Classic—might enjoy reading a sample from this unpublished work.

You can find the first few (unedited) chapters posted here, on the NCTE's "National Gallery of Writing."



Monday, December 6, 2010

Cognitive Dissonsance

Three of my brothers are wildlife artists.  Every now and then, one of them gets bored painting the usual idyllic wildlife scenes and starts messing around in Photoshop.  I just received this somewhat disturbing image in an email from Bob. It has a bit of that "a tarantula on an angel food cake" feel to it.




Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Free, Full-Fat, No-Exercise Lady Gaga Diet

Sorry.  I put that headline up in a desperate attempt to lure more traffic to my blog.

Ahem.

In a wholly successful attempt to avoid writing this morning, I ran across this clever little graphic online.  

I smiled, even though it offends my sense of rightness.  It is not a "correct" Venn diagram - "music I used to like" is not a proper subset of "music I like." But never mind, it's still funny.
Naturally, I spent the next half hour looking at other Venn diagrams.  

And then another half hour making my own diagram.  (I tried to use some of the online Venn diagramming tools, but they were too confusing for five o'clock in the morning, so I just hacked this together with the crappy little drawing program that came with my scanner.)


I'll be reading selections from both books at the Second Story Reading Series this Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.  If you're in the Twin Cities, please stop by!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Suddenly, December

Yet another commercial message from our sponsor, the publishing entity known near and narrow as “Pete Hautman.”  Pete wants you to know that Saturday will be your last opportunity to acquire a personalized copy of Blank Confession before the solstice. 

Second Story Reading Series
When: Saturday, December 4, 2:00 p.m.
Who: Pete Hautman and Steve Brezenoff

Pete will read short sections from BOTH of his “BC” books: Blank Confession and his January, 2011 novel, The Big Crunch.  



Steve will be reading from The Absolute Value of -1, and maybe something from his next book, too.  

There will be snacks.  It will be fun.  Please come - you will be glad you are there and not at the Mall of America.

The Second Story Reading Series is curated by Swati Avasthi and Heather (H.M.) Bouwman, two talented YA/MG authors who recently published their own excellent first novels.  Check ‘em out here and here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Was that a dodo?" he said flightlessly!


Once a year, on Thanksgiving, I revisit the Turkey City Lexicon.

Never heard of the Turkey City Lexicon?  Then you are probably not an SFF (sci-fi/fantasy) writer.  The TCL was collected and published by the Turkey City Workshop, a sci-fi writers' workshop out of Austin, Texas.  It's a collection of terms describing Things That SF Writers Do that, probably, they shouldn't.  I'm not talking about drinking and driving and eating too much (like many SF writers may have done yesterday), but about writerly things like overusing adverbs and revisiting tired plot devices.  You can find it here on the SFWA website.

A couple of my favorite items include:
Fuzz  An element of motivation the author was too lazy to supply. The word “somehow” is a useful tip-off to fuzzy areas of a story. “Somehow she had forgotten to bring her gun.
You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit  An attempt to defuse the reader’s incredulity with a pre-emptive strike — as if by anticipating the reader’s objections, the author had somehow answered them. “I would never have believed it, if I hadn’t seen it myself!” “It was one of those amazing coincidences that can only take place in real life!” “It’s a one-in-a-million chance, but it’s so crazy it just might work!” Surprisingly common, especially in SF. (Attr. John Kessel)
As you can see, these errors are not exclusive to SFF writing.  

Recently I have been watching the first season of "24" on Netflix, which provides many examples of this little TCL gem:
Idiot Plot  A plot which functions only because all the characters involved are idiots. They behave in a way that suits the author’s convenience, rather than through any rational motivation of their own. (Attr. James Blish)
Because I've seen so many TCL items represented in crime fiction, I've decided to add a few of my own crime-fiction-related items to the Lexicon.  Although I've never been to Austin and I don't know any of the TCL creators, I call my addendum "Turkey City Noir."
Ross Thomas  A character who drinks enough to put an elephant under the table twice over—but remains competent and functional.
Mike Shayne  Any character who get knocked unconscious three or more times in one book, and who suffers no ill effects that cannot be treated with a stiff drink.
Kinsey Milhone  Any female sleuth who drives a cute car.
Perry Mason  A mystery in which the killer can reliably be guessed by simply choosing the most unlikely suspect.
Burkism  Ending a chapter or scene with a bizarre metaphor or image, as, “…my knuckles were round and white as quarters on the steering wheel.”  Or “…her calves clicking with light in the bright air.”  (examples from Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke)
Bottoms Up  A book that opens from the point of view of a dying person.
Jesus Plot  A character presumed to be dead near the beginning of a book turns up alive.
Thin Man  A character who does not exist.
Hailey Mary  A book with six or more viewpoint characters, all of whom are rushing headlong toward the same disaster. (after Arthur Hailey, author of Hotel and Airport.
Effing Cozy  A cozy that contains the F word.
One Bad Thing After Another  A novel in which each chapter brings a new personal disaster (loss of child, loss of limb, loss of husband, public humiliation, sudden weight gain, loss of job, etc.) until, at the end, one good thing happens that makes it possible for the protagonist to go on with his or her miserable life.
DoG PileD  A mystery in which the protagonist represents a small minority, every member of which will buy the book.  (from Disabled Gay Portuguese Detective.)
Slippery Witness  A plot that hinges on the detective putting off, for various and trivial reasons, interviewing the one witness who holds the key to the mystery.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thanksgiving Post

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Most of us will be having dinner with family and/or friends.  I hope you are looking forward to it.  I am.

Everybody’s Thanksgiving expectations and experiences are different—yet the same.  I was looking at this Norman Rockwell painting and wondering how many of us have ever had such a Thanksgiving.  Thinking about how odd it was that even though that painting does not resemble any of my Thanksgivings, it still produced a twinge of nostalgia in me. 

At the same time, it made me feel like a voyeur peering in at some vaguely alien scene: Who are these people?  What are they thinking?  Is that really a turkey, or the last dodo?

It got me to wondering what other people’s Thanksgivings are like, which made me think that you might be wondering the same thing.  If so, here’s a preview of what my tomorrow will look like. 

(Warning:  This might be one of my most boring posts ever!)

Mary and I will be driving through a (probable) snowstorm to my cousin Bill’s house.  He and his wife, Sherrie, have volunteered to host the Hautman Thanksgiving celebration this year.  There will be about forty of us—three or four survivors from the eldest generation, maybe two dozen of us baby boomers, a few younger adults, a few teens.  No babies or toddlers this year—my parents' generation was notoriously fecund, we baby boomers have been more circumspect, and the young ones have yet to breed.

There will be nearly as many dishes as there are people.  Our Thanksgiving is a loosely organized potluck.  There will be turkey, of course.  Possibly two.  There will be venison and ham and maybe a few ducks (we have several hunters in the family).  There will be sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and “dressing.”  There will be cranberry something, assorted salads (including Charlie's broccoli salad), appetizers, at least one green bean dish, a mystery dish (Put some on your plate, taste it, turn to the person next to you and ask, “What am I eating?”), and plenty of beverages—cousin Tom will bring his award-winning home-vinted apple wine, and there will be a dozen or more assorted bottles of commercial wines—everything from proseco to reisling to pinot to cabernet—some plonky, some divine, depending on who brought it.  There will be beer and soft drinks.  There will be coffee.

The food will be excellent.  Some dishes will be fantastic.  There are several talented, adventuresome cooks in the family, and the quality of the viands improves every year.  But our Thanksgiving is not really about the food. 

It’s not about saying thank you, either.  There will be no invocations, no toasts, no prayers.  That practice disappeared when my generation reached adulthood back in the 1970s, and my parents and aunts and uncles realized that ninety percent of their offspring had no interest whatsoever in organized religion.  It might be more like ninety-five percent—I’m not sure.

With so many people involved, there is no way this can be a “traditional” sit-down dinner—no carefully planned courses, no wine pairings, and no beautiful table setting.  It will be a scattered and disorganized buffet, with people sitting wherever they can find a space—a card table, the sofa, the floor.

Although the food will be good, most of it will hardly be tasted, because everybody will be talking between (and during) mouthfuls.  Our Thanksgiving is about seeing each other, catching up, making contact.  I will see relatives I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving, and I might meet an "orphan" or two—cousins' friends who happen to be in town.

What do we talk about?  It would be easier to say what we don’t talk about.  We don’t talk about politics much.  Or religion.  Not because we actively avoid those topics, but because most of us simply aren't that interested.  In all the Hautman Thanksgivings I’ve been to, I don’t recall any serious arguments.  No shouting, no fistfights, no shocking revelations.  When I hear stories about other peoples' pyrotechnic Thanksgiving dinners I feel somewhat drama-deprived.  Perhaps we have a dark, seething, river of decay running just beneath the surface, and our apparent civility is a desperate form of denial.  There are indications of such pestilence, certainly—we have our share of family secrets, feuds, and embarrassments—but for some reason these things do not, thankfully, come up at Thanksgiving.

There will be a few serious conversations fitted between the jokes and laughter, but most interactions will be brief and superficial.  That’s a good thing.  I have just as many flat-out irritating relatives as anybody else.  I may be one of the more irritating ones.  Still I enjoy seeing them all.

Do I love Thanksgiving?  As much as I look forward to it, I’m always relieved when it’s over.  We’ll get there mid-afternoon, talk and drink a bit, start eating around five, and by six I’ll have talked to everybody for a moment or two, at least, and I’ll be working on my exit plan.

That’s it.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blank Confession: In Stores This Week


On Saturday, November 20, at 1:00 p.m. I'll be signing books at Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis. If you can't make it, give them a call (612-870-3785) and have them set aside a signed and personalized copy for you. Once Upon a Crime is one of the Midwest's premier booksellers - they'll be here long after the last B&N has closed its doors.  Especially if you give them your business.

Saturday, December 4th, at 2:00 p.m. I will be at The Loft Literary Center for a reading from the new book.  It's free, and there will be snacks.  This is part of the fabulous Second Story Reading Series curated by Swati Avasthi and Heather Bouwman.  Each reading features two readers, one "established" YA or MG author (that would be me), and one "rising star."  In this case, the rising star is Steve Brezenoff, who has written a YA novel with the excellent title The Absolute Value of -1. Last chance to get signed copies for the holidays!

One more thing - on Saturday, January 22, at 2:00 p.m., I'll be at The Red Balloon in St. Paul to talk and sign copies of both Blank Confession and The Big Crunch.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

CRUNCH VIDEO - the Redactor's Cut


Okay, so I made a book trailer for THE BIG CRUNCH and posted it on YouTube, and put it here on my blog and on Facebook. And I spammed everybody in my address book, and a whole bunch of you watched the video. Thank you!

But then I got a kind note from a middle school teacher (my BFF Dana), who said nice things about the video, but said that she would not be able to share the trailer with her students because it contained the acronym "WTF."

I was embarrassed, to say the least. In an effort to blame my own lack of judgment on Mary Logue, I said, “How come when I showed you the video you didn’t tell me to take out the WTF?” 

She replied, completely serious, “What does WTF mean?”

Huh. 

Anyway, I guess I'd been thinking that “WTF” fell into the same category as “LMAO,” or “Jeez." I was wrong, and should have known.  The last thing I want is to make a video that teachers are not comfortable sharing with teens. So what to do?

MAKE A NEW WTF-FREE VERSION OF THE VIDEO!

That’s right. Here it is, the “Middle School Approved” version of the THE BIG CRUNCH book trailer. I think it’s actually a little better.


(Some of you might be wondering if this is a "censorship issue."  It is not.  It's about creating an invitation - an advertisement, really - that works.  My use of the WTF acronym had nothing to do with the book.  It was just me trying to be amusing.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hey! I Made Another Video!

This one is to promote THE BIG CRUNCH.  I promise, this time there will be no singing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

YARN Interview

The Young Adult Review Network (YARN) recently posted an interview with me. They had some good questions. You can read it here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Boys and Girls


In a recent interview I was asked how I am able to write in the voice of a teenage girl, as I did in How to Steal a Car, Sweetblood, and my soon-to-be-released love story (from both the boy's and the girl's perspective), The Big Crunch I said something like this:  "I start with the assumption that boys and girls have almost everything in common.  Boys and girls are not really that different from each other."

To expand on that thought, consider this: An alien life form arrives on Earth.  This alien is a silicon-based crystalline intelligence about the size of a mustard seed.  It derives energy from magnetic fields and communicates by means of UHF waves. 

The alien observes both a mouse and a stalk of corn, and determines that the two creatures are identical:  Both are enormous, grotesque, carbon-based entities that feed upon each other.  The differences between the two—one is motile, the other is not, one contains a higher level of silicon, one squeaks while the other rustles, etcetera—are of no importance to the alien, who leaves the planet believing that Earth offers only a single life form of little or no interest.

The DNA of chimpanzees and humans is 96% identical.  The fact that we regard chimps as being vastly different from ourselves has to do with the relative importance we place on a few minor variations having to do with body shape, hairiness, climbing ability, and so forth.

So it is with boys and girls.  We all eat, sleep, love, cover ourselves with fabrics, feel pleasure and pain…the list of similarities is nearly endless.  Those differences upon which we place so much importance—slight variations in communication techniques, body shape, reproductive equipment, and taste in movies—are relatively minor.  But those minor differences are, subjectively, major.

When writing from the point-of-view of a female character I rely upon a lifetime of close observation, in-depth studies of scholarly texts and laboratory experiments, reading chicklit, and extensive interviews with a variety of female simians.  Then I show my work to Mary Logue and she tells me where I went wrong.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Perfect Hash Browns

The classic American breakfast, eaten millions of times every morning in cafes and restaurants across the U.S., most often includes eggs, hash browns, and toast. The hash browns are the iffiest part of the meal. Just about any breakfast joint can turn out a decent version of eggs-over-easy, but good hash browns are another story.  Still, they are always worth ordering, because when hash browns are done right, they are fantastic: crispy brown on the outside, and soft and yielding on the inside – without being gooey.  The shreds of potato should retain their shape without being completely separate from each other – that is, you do not want a homogenous mass of smooshed potato, and you do not want matchstick potatoes – or worse yet, something that looks like a forkful of pale worms.  When you find a cafĂ© that makes proper hash browns, all is right with the world.
My early attempts to make hash browns at home were disasters.  After dozens of unsuccessful efforts, I came to the conclusion that restaurants used Secret Ingredients or Special Equipment or Advanced Techniques or Black Magic to achieve that crispy-creamy hash brown magic.  So I did what most sane people do when confronted with the unattainable.  I gave up.  I turned to grits, to oatmeal, to pancakes, to scrapple…
But what I really wanted with my eggs was some fantastic hash browns.  Sigh.
A couple of years ago I bought a cheap Japanese slicer and went crazy for a while slicing everything edible.  Also, my fingers.  I decided to take another run at the Holy Grail that is Perfect Hash Browns.
I am pleased to report that I have had some success.
Perfect Hash Browns (for one*)
What you need:
• A medium-size potato**
• A nonstick skillet (any size) with a cover
• 1 tablespoon butter
• Salt (to taste)
Excellent hash browns can be made from any potato variety, but for perfect hash browns, I recommend a mature russet.  In other words, a “baking" potato. 
Step One: Peel and shred the potato.  I use a Benriner slicer, but you could use a cheese grater, the shredding disk on a food processor, or a knife (tedious).  How fine or coarse the shred is up to you - there are many versions of "perfect." 
Whatever tool you choose (Secret Technique coming), shred the potato into a big bowl of water.  Stir it around a bit.  See how milky the water becomes?  That starchy stuff coming off the potato is (ahem) potato starch, and will turn your hash browns into a gluey mess if you let it. You can leave the potatoes in the water for a few seconds, or for hours. 
11111Pour the shredded, soaked potatoes into a strainer.  Rinse them under running water to get rid of most of the starch. Now (here comes the Black Magic) dump the wet shredded potatoes onto a clean dish towel, gather the corners of the towel together, and twist the towel to wring the water from the potatoes. Give it a good twist. Lots of water will come out.
Put a tablespoon or so of butter in your a nonstick skillet. (You could use a combination of butter and oil, but do not eliminate all the butter – that’s what gets you that nice hash brown color.)  Heat skillet.  When the butter has melted but is not yet brown, sprinkle the shredded, semi-dry potatoes into the pan. Spread them evenly. Neaten up the edges if you wish, but DO NOT press the potatoes down with the spatula – you want hash browns, not a potato hockey puck. Loose is good. Those air spaces allow the heat and steam from the pan to wend its way up through the shredded potato. Add salt. Sometimes I throw in a pinch of white pepper, but that’s just me.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover pan.  Let it cook for about eight minutes, then take a look.  If the potatoes are brown around the edges, they are ready to turn.  If they aren’t getting brown, turn up the heat a bit and give it a couple more minutes.  If the edges are black, you had the heat too high.  Start over.
Shake the pan to make sure the potatoes aren’t sticking, then flip.  You won’t need a spatula. Or maybe you will.
Cook for another five to ten minutes. Leave the skillet uncovered for this stage – you want the top of the hash browns to stay nice and crispy.
Slide onto a plate. Perfect!
Even better!
*To make hash browns for several people, use a bigger pan, but keep the depth of the potato layer about the same. Flipping can be tricky. Good luck.
**This basic technique also works with other vegetables: zucchini, sweet potato, winter squash, beets, parsnip, etc. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Update

Just back from two days of library visits in Columbus, Ohio. The squirrels have been busy.

Columbus was great.  I got to spend hours with librarian (and soon-to-be-published novelist) Julie Scordato, visit six libraries, and eat ice cream at Jeni's.  As usual, I forgot to take any pictures.  Oh well.

While I was there, I did a video interview with Doug Dangler for Writers Talk.  You can view it here.

Or not!  I guess my interview isn't posted yet.  Check back in couple of weeks.  In the meantime, you can watch John Green's interview instead.