Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Moi

Actually, I'm jumping the gun because today is officially Donna's Birthday Eve rather than the day itself, but I like to warm up with the self-congratulations and arbitrary indulgent commands to everyone in shouting distance. Birthdays are big at our house. In fact, they start the day before and continue on through the weekend. Naturally most of the celebration involves meals and other sensual treats. Tonight we're having a homemade pizza bash with friends--dessert is my friend Jennifer's famous homemade cheesecake which is luscious and light and my vote for the Best in the World (although admittedly of limited production). Tomorrow begins with a Japanese breakfast at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. I'm not sure what other selfish whims will come to mind. There will be a nice wine in the evening and some costume drama chick-film I'll force on my men. We'll spend a quiet evening at home away from the drunk drivers, stay up until midnight, and stumble into bed.

What's it like to have a birthday on the last day of the year, you may ask? Even if you don't ask, I'm going to tell you. It's not the day I'd choose. I'd prefer another time of the year, one that isn't already saturated in specialness and self-indulgence. I mean, seriously, at this time of the year we're all sick of gifts and special foods. I'd rather have a birthday on October 9 or June 12 or some day that could be mine alone. Plus, I think I still haven't recovered from my birthday party in first grade, when I invited all the girls in my class. My friend Pam did that for her birthday in October and everyone came. But for my party, five out of twelve showed up because the rest of them were visiting grandma or otherwise engaged.

I was really bummed and I've been sort of spooked about throwing parties ever since.

Over the years, however, I've come to see some advantages to a December 31 fete. First of all, it's really easy to figure out my age at any given point of the year. Secondly, my dad was really happy about the tax deduction. And last but not least, the whole world is in a festive mood right along with me--and I can get great deals on champagne!

So, world, tomorrow night, raise a champagne flute to all you've learned in the old year, the new year of hope and fresh beginnings, and of course, yours truly who is one year older and a wee bit wiser (but still hasn't thrown a birthday party for herself except for one ersatz Kennywood Park party in May in fifth grade which was mildly dissatisfying because everyone gave me May birthstone jewelry....)

And yes, the photo is me--like my frilly dress?

Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Luscious Doesn't Have to Be Hard!

Although of course, sometimes it is ;-).

I will admit I am hardcore about my holiday cookie baking. There really is something more than a tad nutty about my December passion--the more demanding and stern the cookie recipe, the more I worship it, paying homage with oven mitt and offset spatula in hand. But some of my holiday treats are not at domineering. Take the puffed eggnog pancake, for example. It's SO easy to mix up and yet it comes out of the oven souffled and gorgeous and fragrant with the winter holidays. We had this last Sunday, and I may just have to whip up another batch before the twelve days of Christmas are done.

Here's the recipe--for ambitious and laid-back cooks alike!

Puffed Eggnog Pancake

(serves 2-3; can be doubled and baked in a 13x9 inch pan)

3 eggs
2/3 cup eggnog
1/2 cup flour
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 T. butter (I've used just one and it worked fine)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Syrup for serving

Preheat oven to 425F. Mix the eggs in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the flour, then the eggnog and nutmeg, beating until well blended. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Place the butter in a 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish and place it in the oven until the butter is melted and sizzling; do not let it brown. Remove pan from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the top with almonds and sugar. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and brown. Serve immediately with syrup.

Breasts and Cookies--Yet Another Link!

Little did I know how potent my postings yesterday would be! In fact, my musing about cookies and breasts even worked their way into the night-time reverie of my own fantasy chef, Kirsten Monroe. Here's how she describes my unwitting invasion of her dreams:

"I was sitting on your kitchen island surrounded by cookie porn. OMG! You wanted to talk about boobs and I kept coming back to your slippery apricot filling and browned butter. I said something -- can't remember what -- and you began laughing hysterically. It was dreamy. Your kitchen was just like Martha Stewart's only less shiny and it smelled like all the sweetness in heaven and all the browned butter in hell."

A less shiny--or should we say "naughty"?--Martha Stewart... yes, that is what I aspire to after all. I never really thought about roaming the earth as the Ghost of Christmas Cookies in the Japanese fashion of the living spirit wandering abroad at night, but there may be a future in it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Should I Get Breast Implants?

Most people say “you don’t look like what I expected of an erotica writer.” Those who don’t say it are probably thinking it! No one has yet had the courage to tell me how the real me has differed from expectations. I know the popular image of the erotica writer at her desk probably involves a floozy wearing a corset, garters and stockings, and a damp thong, but surely my new friends wouldn’t think I’d wear such things to a meeting in public? It finally occurred to me the other day what the real message is.

They imagined I’d have larger breasts.

Not that size itself is the most important thing. Quality trumps quantity in my book, and I personally am quite satisfied with my endowment. But maybe, to please my public, I should consider breast implants.

What do you think?

Or maybe I should just shove a few dozen Christmas cookies in my shirt?

Pictures from an Orgy--Butter Included!

Orgies—they’re definitely fun, but it’s also a challenge keeping track of the different pleasures and possibilities happening around you. All the more so when you’re the director of the orgy, as I was this past week. Yes, I invited ten different participants into my home for a wild and slippery time of it. Five pounds of butter saw action, plus lots of fruity sweet thangs. I took pictures, too, so those who couldn't join in the action could watch from afar!

Okay, my regular readers have already guessed I’m talking about food, specifically holiday cookies. I’ve been indulging in my cookie orgy for five Decembers now, and this was a particularly wild year for me. I gave out eighteen boxes to teachers, soccer coaches, my writing mentors and such. I wish I could have sent you a box, but these cookies don’t really travel well. Instead, I hope food porn (of the photographic sort) and food erotica (of the written kind) will provide enough of a taste to get your mouth watering.

I made my classic recipes this year and tried out a few new ones that worked out well enough to make a repeat appearance next year. Of course, my bout of cookie madness had its predictable crises. I overmixed the base for the Pecan Squares just a tad and the Venetians were slightly unstable due to the fact the apricot jam had less whole fruit than usual resulting in a slippery filling. On the other hand, the Spoon Cookies were more flavorful--a hard year of book promotion gave me the courage to let the butter brown just a bit more than usual. But I suspect my recipients don’t bring the same critical eye and palate to my cookies. They seem to enjoy them with a sincerity you don’t really find in responses to writing.

To be honest, I love the excitement and satisfaction my cookies seem to inspire. Some highlights of this year: “Oh, the cookies! This is one of the highlights of our holiday!” “I look forward to these every year.” “These are the best cookies ever.” “You could get rich selling these.” “If I were married to your wife, I’d weigh five hundred pounds.”

Well, that’s probably enough to give you a taste of the acclaim. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t swap writing for baking?

I promised pictures and here they are.

Exhibit A shows the hidden bottom layer of the first round of cookie boxes. It includes:

Yin-Yang Cookies—vanilla cookie dough with chocolate chips marries chocolate cookie dough with white chocolate chips

Chewy Pecan Squares—pecan caramel filling on a shortbread crust

Ribbon Cookies—layers of cherry, pistachio and chocolate cookie dough

The top layer has the more delicate cookies, including:

Venetians—Italian flag-tinted almond cake layers with apricot jam and bittersweet chocolate

Gevulde Speculaas—Dutch spice cookies with marzipan filling

Finnish Spoon Cookies—browned butter dough shaped with a silver spoon (that my grandmother received as a wedding gift in 1919) and sandwiched with mixed fruit jam

And some of the later boxes held a selection of the following, which you see on the plate, moving counter-clockwise from the upper left:

Cranberry-White Chocolate Drops—a double-vanilla sugar cookie dough with New England’s best dried cranberries and white chocolate chips

Mexican Wedding Cookies—a classic recipe with pistachios and the afore-mentioned dried cranberries

Lebkuchen—a German-style gingerbread with candied orange peel, almonds and cardamom. This is a new recipe that definitely tasted better after a few days of aging.

Not pictured and yet to be eaten, as they require a week to reach maturity (that is, they are culinarily under eighteen) are:

Rum Balls—the classic no-cook bon-bon made with vanilla wafers, pecans, cocoa and a nice jigger of rum

After handing out all of the packages and accepting the mostly enthusiastic thanks, my family got to enjoy the leftovers during our annual cookie buffets, where I spread out the tins of all the different kinds on our dining room table and we get to choose a few (or more than a few) each night. Because of the higher volume of gifting and gratitude this year, the cookie buffet only ran for about four nights, but it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Cookie madness is over for the year and I can sit back and enjoy the sweet rewards.

I hope your winter solstice holidays are equally sweet!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Do You Like Your Lingerie with an Amorous Twist?

Hey, the holiday treats just keep coming! It's not just the cookies. I have the sweetest pleasure to be featured on an awesome web site I've been lurking about on for some time now, ever since Jeremy Edwards introduced me to the pleasures of apricot panties and antique kimono.... Anyway, Ms. Slip of Girl got a copy of my novel, Amorous Woman, from her girlfriend Gracie Passette (a girlfriend after my own heart) and she liked it, too, and posted a wonderful review on her site.

She's also running a contest until December 18 where you can win a copy of Amorous Woman for yourself or a friend by doing one simple thing:

"All you have to do is tell me the most embarrassing place you've been caught reading erotica -- or, if you've never been caught, you can tell us your favorite place to read erotica &/or what's your favorite piece of lingerie to wear when you want to enjoy yourself reading erotica -- we're easy like that *wink*"

Now that's pretty easy, and it's also fun, so get your satin-clad booty (or boxer-clad booty or G-string or briefs or tap pants or whatever you wear under there-booty) over to Slip of a Girl and enter to win. I don't mind sending extra copies to my friends. I'm sure you have a girlfriend who'd like a little trip to Japan this holiday season?

Monday, December 15, 2008

It Gets Even Hotter at Dr. Dick's!

Forget Christmas, this is really what I’ve been waiting for: Part 2 of Dr. Dick’s interview with me is now available for your listening pleasure, and I mean pleasure! Maybe it’s because it always takes me just a little time to warm up properly. Or maybe it’s the lovely Malbec the doctor kept pouring into my glass while I sank deeper into that comfy beanbag chair. But the second half is probably my most intimate interview ever. I get naughty, I get bitchy, I even change genders for a brief time--and hey, it’s really interesting to be on the other side of the sex war! So, if you want to hear the real Donna George Storey (and her dirty-minded male alter-ego) let it all hang out, pop on over to Dr. Dick's right now! I guarantee you'll be moved ;-).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Naughty Secret Life

You may think I’m just an ordinary smut writer, but in fact I have a secret life…as...gasp!...a cookie-baking mom! This past Thursday I went public with my hidden vice by giving a presentation at my son’s school’s annual Festival of Lights.

Here was my blurb for the presentation:

“The Sweet Art of Cookie-Baking in Northern Europe

During the cold, dark Decembers of the northern hemisphere, kitchen artists in every house had to create their own light. What better way to brighten your life than delicious homemade cookies? Help stir up a batch of three-layered ribbon cookies, then sample the final sweet result, while we talk about traditions of baking and hospitality at year end in Europe and North America.”

In the photo above you see me prepared for the demonstration of assembling “Ribbon Cookies” (the kids helped add the flavoring to each of three portions of dough). Note that my gingerbread house is on display as well.

Now, I was fully prepared for a turn-out like most of my book readings, that is, a select, but intelligent and discerning group of people who appreciate life’s sensual pleasures. Lo and behold, the place was packed—by far a bigger crowd than all of my other book events put together (excepting In the Flesh LA and NYC which sort of don’t count). I think I may need to rethink my path to fame and fortune. Cookies definitely trump sex in terms of public interest, or so my research thus far has shown.

Before a standing room only crowd, I spoke about Christmas sweets customs in Europe and my childhood memories of my mother and her friends baking many kinds and serving them to guests. Polish poppyseed cookies, Swedish Nut Rolls, Russian Tea Cakes—it was like a mini trip to Europe for me! And so I continue the tradition today, when I’ll start the first batch of Christmas cookies 2008, Finnish spoon cookies, formed with a spoon my grandmother got for a wedding present in 1919.

But back to the event. After my brief lecture in which I confessed my cookie mania and made full use of my cookie map of Europe, I invited the kids to help with the final assembly of the cookies and about a dozen volunteered enthusiastically. I got several queries as to whether the gingerbread house could be consumed on the spot, but I held off the hungry hoards, determined to save that destructive pleasure for my own kids on Christmas Eve (they had to put up with the stress of the construction after all). Then parents and kids alike got to sample ribbon cookies and persimmon cookies I made from an old recipe of one of my son's classmates grandmothers. I got lots of compliments and requests for both recipes, which made me happy. I do like to make mouths water one way or another.

If you’d like to make your own Ribbon Cookies, here’s the recipe:

Ribbon Cookies
(from A Baker’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies)

Yields 100 cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/4 cup minced candied cherries or
candied orange peel
2 drops liquid red food coloring
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted natural pistachios
2 drops liquid green food coloring
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

Line bottom and sides of a 4 x 8” straight-sided loaf pan with plastic wrap, using enough to overhang all sides.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and egg.

Add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing just until blended. Divide dough in three equal parts (use measuring cup to make sure they are even) and place in individual bowls. Add cherries or orange peel to one, stir until combined (I also added a few drops red food coloring), and pat in an even layer in loaf pan. I arrange about 8-10 flat measuring Tablespoons of dough into the pan and press it flat with an offset spatula, then smooth it to make an even layer.

Add pistachios to another, stir until combined and stir in food coloring. Pat into an even layer on top of cherry layer. Stir melted chocolate and chocolate morsels into the third until well blended, and pat in an even layer on top of pistachio layer. Fold plastic wrap over dough to cover completely and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap loaf pan and unmold cookie dough by pulling up on plastic wrap to aid the process. Peel plastic completely away. Cut 1/3-inch slices crosswise off end of loaf. Lay slices flat on work surface so that the various layers of cookie are horizontal in front of you. Cut each cookie into four pieces, top to bottom, so that each slice has all three flavors. Place two inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake just until light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Amorous Woman Makes Violet Blue's Top 10!

Woo hoo! Pop open the champagne, not that we ever need an excuse, but I do have most excellent news: Amorous Woman made Violet Blue’s top ten sexy book list for this Christmas! The list is in no particular order, but I did come first, which I usually do, but I’m getting off topic here. The holidays have a way of putting me in the mood!

Anyway, Violet knows a good dirty story when she sees one, as is clearly evident in this year’s hotter-than-ever Best Women’s Erotica 2009. I’ll be talking more about this soon, but it always is a special December treat, and definitely a good way to cap off my writing year.

Alison Tyler's inspiring Never Have the Same Sex Twice and Rachel Kramer Bussel's delectable Tasting Him and Tasting Her are also on the list. As I said, Violet has the very best "taste" when it comes to these matters! And that makes for an offering that is sure to please for almost everyone on your winter solstice gift list....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Am I Hardcore?

That’s what erotica writer Jane Black (check out her bittersweet and very hot story of sexual awakening on Clean Sheets this week--it's a good one!) told me when I described this year’s gingerbread house project. What makes this year’s special is a little experiment of mine, inspired by a recipe for stained glass cookies. I decided to melt some butterscotch disks and see if they might make nice windows for a gingerbread abode. And in fact, this leap of creativity paid off nicely. Note the golden glow emanating from the edible edifice—the perfect touch of tingly warmth for the long December nights.

Again I’m reminded of the refreshingly uncomplicated response this kind of creativity inspires. The compliments abound and they seem totally sincere. Maybe that’s because no one else is crazy enough to spend so much time on gingerbread houses? I mean, there are professional pastry chefs who do it for display in hotels or other public places. They’re definitely hardcore, but it’s their full time job and they get paid for it, the dominatrices of the genre. And then there are those kits of pre-baked pieces you glue together with icing and let the kids decorate. It’s a great idea, but, well, a little too soft and wimpy to turn me on.

I won’t lie to you. This little cottage looks simple and charming enough, but it took me hours to draw the pattern, bake the pieces, assemble and decorate. An absurd amount of time, really. There’s no doubt it’s like a short story. You want it to look seamless and self-contained. No sweat, doubts or swear words ever disgraced its conception. But they lurk just the same in the secret history of the smooth, finished piece. If those gingerbread walls could talk!

Anyway, I think Jane has a point, but I certainly wasn’t as hardcore this year as when I spent weeks on “Holiday Inn,” pictured above. That was definitely hardcore. But maybe this year it would be better to call me “mediumcore.” You know, vanilla, but made with fresh vanilla beans and organic cream, topped with homemade hot fudge and fresh, toasted pecans with a glace cherry on top?

What do you think? (Slack-jawed admiration of the magical wonder of my gingerbread house is shamelessly accepted).

A Note for Insane Gingerbread Architects: The windows are an easy trick to tuck in your bag. Just place two butterscotch candies together on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until melted and spreading, then smooth with a spoon, if necessary (it may not be). Lift them from the paper after about a minute with a spatula and cool on a rack. Glue them to the inside of the windows with royal icing and voila!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My HOTTEST Interview Ever!

My favorite part of book promotion has definitely been the interviews. Each host who’s been kind enough to me into their airy salon has asked thought-provoking, intelligent questions and helped me see my work in a new way. I’ve felt true support and interest and each time my life feels a bit richer for the experience. Of course, radio has its restrictions and the George Carlin rules shaped our discussions, but rather like a good bondage session, sometimes restrictions can increase the pleasure.

Then again, sometimes it’s fun just to say, forget rules and let it all hang out! That’s what I’ve done on my interview with the charming and provocative Dr. Dick. Thanks to an introduction by the awesome Jeremy Edwards, Dr. Dick invited me to be part of his series of interviews with artists who explore the erotic in their work, called The Erotic Mind.

The first part of my interview on Dr. Dick’s Sex Advice: Sex Advice With An Edge is available for your listening pleasure right here. I read from a shamelessly juicy part of Amorous Woman and tell all about how I started writing, why I write under my own name, the allure of multi-cultural erotica and much more. And if you like part one, you are really going to enjoy part two. That’s when things get really steamy!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

An Armchair Trip to Japan's "Floating World"

My promotional activities for Amorous Woman have led me to some very entertaining and educational locales in cyberspace. Today I make a stop at Readerville.com's "Odd Shelf" feature with my list of favorite books on Japan's after-dark entertainment districts. Geisha, love hotels, spring prints, bar hostesses, pink salons and soaplands, the notorious Abe Sada, exquisite kaiseki dinners. If you have a vivid imagination--and I know the readers of my blog most definitely do--you can experience them all with my selection of elegantly written and beautifully illustrated books. Check out some of the other lists, too--and leave a comment if you're so inspired!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm on Cult of Gracie Tonight!

I'm getting all fluttery just thinking about it. If you have a few minutes tonight at 7 pm PST, stop by to listen, ask a question and hopefully feel some fluttery excitement right along with me! I'll give the tell-all report tomorrow....

Christmas Cookies are like Sex?

The December edition of “Cooking up a Storey” is up at ERWA this week. Can you believe I’ve been at it for one full year of erotic musings with recipe? This month’s topic is A Year of Living Shamelessly: Hustlers, Exhibitionists and the Libidinous Magic of the Ordinary. I talk about orgies, food porn and Christmas cookie sex. There’s a juicy excerpt from my story, “Six Layers of Sweetness” (or is that “Sex Layers of Sweetness”?) and a recipe for a cookie for shameless show-offs. Might that be you? Read it and find out for yourself!

By the way, the photo is an example of one of my annual Christmas cookie boxes. Sex layers of sweetness indeed....