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Women in Horror: Sara Townsend

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Today we’re back in the UK for Women in Horror Month, where Sara Jayne Townsend talks about how she discovered horror and what draws her in.

WHY HORROR?

I was 13 years old when I discovered horror. Before then, I was scared of anything remotely creepy. But something changes in you when you hit puberty, and it’s not just about all the previously undiscovered angst coming out. That year, I picked up Stephen King’s Different Seasons while browsing in the school library. I liked it so much I went looking for more books by the same author and came across Carrie. After that, I was hooked.

The same year, my English teacher gave the class an assignment to write a horror story. Townsend The Whispering Death New E-book Master (3) (400x640)Mine was about ten teenagers who went on a camping trip in a remote field and unearthed an ancient evil that possessed some of them, who then went around murdering the others. I really enjoyed writing it, and the teacher seemed to like it as well (she gave me an A+). It was something of a flawed story, but I was only 13 and had a lot to learn about the craft of writing.

That was 36 years ago, and I’ve been writing horror ever since. Over the years I’ve had many people ask some variation of the same question: “What’s a nice girl like you doing writing such nasty stories?”

So what is it about horror that’s so fascinating? I’ve asked myself the same question several times. Part of it is about exploring the dark nature of humanity. I am not interested in stories about people discovering love and living happy every after. I am much more interested in writing, and reading, about the darkness in people’s souls. What makes someone take the life of a fellow human being? The majority of people can’t imagine doing this, and yet it happens in our world, every day. Serial killers are fascinating to me because I want to understand what makes them do what they do. Is it some misfiring synapses in their bTownsend Suffer The Children 200X300rain that makes them want to kill people? Or is it that such people are truly born evil?

Part of the appeal of horror on a personal level is being able to exorcise one’s own demons. I have certain recurring themes that seem to pop up in a lot of my stories−isolation; loneliness; despair. These seem to represent my own inner demons, and writing about them helps me to find a way to externalise them, and come to terms with them.

Another aspect of horror writing is escapism. A lot of readers like fantasy because it allows them to escape to a fantastical land of magic and strange and marvellous creatures, and a world that seems far more appealing than the one they live in. In horror, the reader escapes to a much darker world, of monsters and evil entities. Townsend OUTPOST H311 MASTER (3) (200x320)Sometimes it puts your own problems into perspective. If you are reading a story about a world where a plague has wiped out all of humanity, and the few survivors face a daily battle of survival against brain-eating zombies, your own everyday worries seem somewhat insignificant in comparison.

And then of course there is the element of fear. We all like to be scared, but we much prefer to do it in a controlled environment, where we know the threat isn’t really real. That’s why people like roller coasters. The ride might be scary, but when it’s over you get off and the fear goes away. The same thing happens when you finish a scary book, although a really scary book might stay with you for a few days after you finish reading it. If I can do that to a reader, then I’ve done my job as a horror writer.

For all of these reasons, I love horror. I deal with my own fears by re-imagining them onto the page. And if I can write something that gives you nightmares–well, I’d take that as a compliment.

Townsend sara-121-Web (2)Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She is author of several horror novels, the latest one being Outpost H311, the story of an oil exploration team who crashland on a remote island in the arctic to discover a hidden base that is hiding some sinister secrets.

Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website and her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and Goodreads, and buy her books from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

 

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Catherine Austen

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Catherine Austen writes of a future with people as commodity in “Team Leader 2040”

I was hoping to get all the interviews done for Tesseracts 17 before the ned of the year but I’m also trying to finish the first draft of my novel and do some jury reading. So, my apologies for all the lags. I’m also going out of order a bit from the table of contents because some people are on holidays. Today, I talk with Catherine Austen who lives in Gatineau, Quebec.

CA: “Team Leader 2040” riffs off of the popularity of zombie movies, TV and fiction that is pervasive right now. Yet you made your story a much more realistic and possible future. Do you foresee the zombie craze getting to this level?

I don’t foresee it, but if someone were to offer such a park, I think it would have customers. As virtual reality gaming becomes more sophisticated, some players might want a different experience, something retro and grounded, and entrepreneurs might provide a zombie hunting amusement park if it could make money and were legal. Its success–in terms of it being awesome fun–would hinge on the idea that it is harmless and victimless. But people have no problem buying and selling that idea about all sorts of destructive and dehumanizing things.

CA: This tale has a streak of the darkest aspects of our society. Do you believe we could get to such a world as you show, or do you think we are already there?

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Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

I think we could get there. I’m not able to judge how close we are because I have led a privileged life in an insular world characterized by its utter lack of desperation. Everyone I encounter day to day is basically kind and generous, so it feels like we’re ages away from such a world as the one in my story. But someone from a slum or a macho backwater or a collapsed country where people are bought and sold right now and entire ethnicities or genders are considered worthless might think we’re pretty close.

CA: In some ways, “Team Leader 2040” is apocryphal. And while every writer is always showing a scenario, do you consider it a warning at all?

I suppose it’s a warning about how normalized the idea of people as commodities can become if market values are our highest values. But I didn’t write it as a warning. I just wanted to explore the character, the Team Leader, who is in this vulnerable position of having to do a job that’s morally reprehensible. And though it’s a speculative story, I think that basic conflict is timeless.

CA: Would you say human rights are better these days than a century ago, or just that the values have shifted?

I have such mixed feelings about this question. “Human rights” didn’t extend to all that many humans in times past and I think things are better these days, if only in that the circle of concern covers more people–including me, as a woman. There’s no other time or place I would rather be than Canada right now (or maybe back in the ‘80s).

It feels as if some people are more precious than ever while others are more disposable than ever, and maybe that’s just the growing gap between rich and poor. There was a sense in the 20th century that, in between the wars and genocides, we were moving toward more democracy and freedom and shared wealth, which are all good for human rights. But it’s less common to encounter that optimism now. Around the globe there is so much destitution and dislocation combined with the possibility of huge profits for selling your neighbor–and that’s a bad mix for human rights. So, while I don’t think there was an Eden of respect that we’ve fallen from, the future does not look rosy.

CA: What other fiction pieces are you working on right now?

I am working on more short stories about the buying and selling of humans and their parts, all set in the same future world as “Team Leader” (which is also the setting of a sequel to my award-winning teen novel, All Good Children). But I usually write for young people. I have a middle-grade comedy coming out this spring with Lorimer (28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6) and a picture book scheduled for 2015 release with Fitzhenry and Whiteside (When Squirrels Stole My Sister). Right now I am revising a teen novel (Can I Keep Him?) that will hopefully be done and out over the next couple of years.

Catherine Austen writes fiction for all ages. Her most recent novel, All Good Children (Orca), won the Canadian Library Association’s 2012 Young Adult Book Award and the 2012 Sunburst Award (YA category). Catherine was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick, raised in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Gatineau, Quebec. She is proud to be a Canadian and she hopes our future will not be as grim as the one she imagines.

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Tips on How to Survive the Apocalypse

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Surviving the zombie apocalypse means having food in storage. From: http://eleusinianmysteriesofreading.blogspot.ca

After surviving three months of the Apocalypse Diet, where I bought no food and lived off of what was in my place, I have learned a few things. In the event of an apocalypse (choose your poison), whether earthquake, alien invasion, uber contagious supervirus, zombies or a gadzillion insects attacking, how long would you survive? Looking at the necessities before battling the foe, that would be the basic creature comforts: a safe place to sleep, food and water.

It’s always good to have either frozen or sealed jugs of sterile water stored, which will keep indefinitely. In Vancouver, we sometimes get “boil water” advisories when the water table is high or there’s been an issue (rare) with the water system. You’ll want a few other items such as easily accessible flashlights, lighters and candles. You might have tools on your list but food is going to matter most. If the power cut out, then whatever you had in your freezer would have to be eaten first, starting with the meats as they thawed. Extra ice would help, or a cool place outside such as a ground cellar. Probably learning how to pickle items would help or how to salt meats if you had a full-on freezer with too many items rotting.

One thing that was absolutely essential in having fresh vegetables throughout my experiment was a low humidity fridge. It removes so much moisture that foods dry out as opposed to mulching down. I once had grapes turn to raisins over three months in my fridge (yes, another experiment). The secret is to leave as many out of the bags as possible or leave them loosely bagged. Items with high water content such as lettuce, spinach, zucchini will rot first, no matter what. Root vegetables will last longest. Apples will last longer than berries.

And of course, it’s important to have a lot of carbohydrates stored: potatoes, yams, rice, quinoa, pasta, flour, barley, beans, etc. I had all of these items and still hadn’t quite run out after three months. I learned some interesting things about eating patterns while eating for the apocalypse. I did eat less. I stretched out my vegetables and proteins by upping the carb content. Carbs fill you up. This explains diets of people who are poor. They’re often undernourished and eat too many fats and carbs, the easiest and cheapest way to feel full. I’ve heard people arrogantly say before that a person who is “fat” should just “lose weight.” It’s not always that easy without knowing the backgrounds, such as physical, mental or environmental disorders.  I consider poverty an environmental disorder.

I also rediscovered some foods; that barley is actually tasty and bulgar wheat isn’t bad, that potato flour can’t be substituted for

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May the apocalypse be nothing more than a nightmare. From deviantart.com, artist: arcipello

rice or wheat flour in baking, that coconut milk, peanut butter and soy sauce make a quick and easy Thai curry. I am a food concocter at the best of times, throwing in this and that, so some dishes I never commented on as they’re my normal range of mad scientist fare. An adaptable mind will help as supplies run out.

As well, I found the archaic beasts that had lived in my cupboards for far too long: the raisins (gone to the neighbor), really dead prunes, a host of dried fruit I don’t eat, sauerkraut that will outlive cockroaches. I used up a lot of little bits of this and that but still have the fruit from liqueurs I made about ten years ago. I need to make muffins of this or throw it out. If the apocalypse happened in a month or two I’m sure I could survive another three months as I’ve restocked quickly. Buying in bulk is often cheaper. If it’s the growing season it won’t be as bad for fresh food, even if my freezer is relatively empty. Here’s to surviving the apocalypse.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 88-91

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This dried zombie flesh was starting to look appealing. Geekstir.com

These are the halcyon days of the Apocalypse Diet. I’m not taking it to its strange and bitter end where I subsist on jam, cornmeal and alcohol. April 1st is my doomsday, but let’s recap. I started this diet to see how long I could go without buying any food in my place. During that time, I’ve had a party and friends over. While I did buy food for those events, it was either completely consumed or put away to be used after the diet ends. So I do have a jar of mayonnaise, some crackers,  frozen vegetables and a small bag of green olives that I am ignoring.

Going out for dinner was a bubble outside of the experiment and obviously, if the zombies were scrabbling at my door or the evil supervirus running rampant, would not be an option. And if it were truly the apocalypse, I might not have water and electricity, or I might, depending on how these hydroelectric stations run. I’ve managed to bring lunch to work throughout this, but I have cut down on portions. I’ve been given a few food items as well and allowed to have them since during the apocalypse there would be some food trade. It’s been an interesting experiment and I’ll do a final post after the diet entries on what I learned from this. Now, on to the last days of the Apocalypse Diet.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 88 (Mar. 28):

There does seem to be less zombie activity outside the doors. Maybe, with the coming of spring, those semi decomposed, shambling creatures are starting to rot. Or maybe, they’re becoming fecund gardens in which seeds and bulbs are sprouting. Imagine, the walking horrors looking like ambulatory flower beds. You pluck lettuce and pansy from the zombie, the zombie eats you. Fair trade.

So, today’s lunch was the  last of last night’s dinner; pink pasta with beets, red cabbage, capers, tuna, and kalamata olives, with almost the last of the Parmesan cheese. It’s lasted so long because it was a fairly full container and I find it sweet, which doesn’t appeal.

Have you ever noticed how red cabbage (which is actually purple) looks like a brain when it’s cut? Maybe the zombies are winning after all. I had another dead soldier, .5 cup of couscous and for those who don’t know, it’s wheat. I didn’t rub it into separate bits like you’re supposed to. I just cooked it up. On top of that went the end-of-the-world medley; pickled artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes in oil, garlic, tuna, red cabbage, flake yeast and some herbs and hot sauces. Oh and sunflower seeds. One of my challenges this week has been how to make something that I can actually take for lunch. This will do for Thursday.

Chocolate pudding cake for dessert, with frangelico. And I found two half boxes of lasagna noodles in the cupboard, so I’m still hanging in with the starches…just.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 89 (Mar. 29):

The clock is ticking down and the zombies are being pushed aside by crocuses, daffodils and the beginning of spring. Lunch was indeed the same as last night’s dinner. Dinner was the last of the crab panang curry with broken up lasagna noodles. Not as good as rounded pasta noodles but I had one and a half boxes of the stuff and have had it forever.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 90 (Mar. 30):

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Yes yes yes! I have missed my veggies. Creative Commons: Auntie P, flickr

Breakfast was a slice of bread my neighbor gave me (yes one slice, to display his bread making might) with peanut butter. Lunch was hazelnuts and dried cranberries because I’ve run out of foods that I can take for lunch. Dinner, I was saved by going to my friend’s and eating Chinese food.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 91 (Mar. 31):

This is the last day of the Apocalypse. Tomorrow the fools come out and I shop. I had the last of the sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and more softened toenails (banana chips) for lunch. Don’t let anyone tell you that banana chips are healthy. There is so much grease oozing off of those things that I’m throwing the rest out.

Early dinner was glass noodles, with peanut butter and soy, and the last of the mixed shellfish, really almost enough for two meals but I’m heartily sick of mussels for quite a while now. They never were my fave, especially the frozen variety. I drank the last cider in the fridge, pear cider and that is the end.

April 1:

Today is the beginning of a new way of eating. I officially stopped the diet and then scoured my fridge since it was mostly empty. And I mean scour, pulling out every drawer and rack right down to the cavity. It’s never been so clean. What do I have left: 3/4 of a red cabbage, three apples, a few cloves of garlic, a jar of pickles, a bit of a jar of sundried tomatoes and another of artichoke hearts, sauces, spices, a few glass noodles, round rice tortillas, dried cranberries, plums, figs, guavas (how does someone who hates dried fruit end up with so much?), some pumpkin and sesame seeds, and frozen berries. I already gave my neighbor half a bag of raisins, threw out the rest of the banana chips and the very dead and dried prunes.

I went to the store and bought $30 in veggies and another $15 on rice, turkey wieners and tuna. Tomorrow I’m starting a different type of diet, one that limits fat and carbs and sugars. But for now, I survived the zombie invasion, and managed to exist for three months. There will be a follow up post but now…there are some veggies waiting for a party in my belly.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 82-87

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Coconut solidifies at room temperature but I keep mine in the fridge. Usually available at any store that sells Asian foods. Panang curry paste, spicy and yummy.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 82 (Mar. 22):

The end is very near. I’m going to try to make it to April 1 when I will officially stop the diet, but I might not make it through next week. I was taken out for lunch today to a Vietnamese restaurant and had spring rolls and a vermicelli with chicken with all the fixings. I ate it all but was so full that I actually didn’t even bother with dinner.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 83 (Mar. 23):

I thought I was out of the veggie nut chile but I found another container in the freezer. So I had half of that with some Bulgar wheat hiding in the cupboard for half of forever. There are all sorts of bags and jars with this and that, that I probably bought once for some recipe but forgot about. I have two different sized jars of cornmeal and I don’t know what I’ll do with them. Nothing while I’m on the Apocalypse Diet, though if it truly was the end of the world, a month or two down the road I’d probably be boiling it and mixing it with jam.

Okay, it’s time for another food experiment. I have a can of crab! Yay! Though in fact I don’t really like the taste of canned crab and that’s why it’s been there so long. I have that package of panang curry paste, and half of this block of coconut cream, and some penne pasta, so here we go. This turned out really well and very yummy. I wanted to eat all of it but it’s a pretty high fat content and I’ve saved at least half of the sauce for  another night.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 84 (Mar. 24):

Today was a busy day of running around, meeting up with a friend for brunch and out in the evening so I didn’t actually eat anything at home. What I did have was a chicken burger with fries I couldn’t finish and then some garlic butter prawns with a piece of garlic toast for dinner and that was it. I did drink half of a can of grapefruit pop/soda at home but that was it.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 85 (Mar. 25):

I was actually feeling a bit in a slump today so I didn’t eat all day until I went to a friend’s for a potluck where I had some chicken, bread and a piece of coffee cake. That filled me up. Yes, my stomach has shrunk a bit.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 86 (Mar. 26):

Lunch was truly the last of the veggie chili with the last of the Bulgar wheat. I was given half a huge muffin so that was an afternoon snack. It was a bit too dry to ever appeal to a zombie. For supper I had some of that panang curry with glass noodles. I think I prefer the pasta noodles to the rice noodles, maybe because they’re firmer.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 87 (Mar. 27):

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Zombie pasta made pink by the beets, with olives, tuna, red cabbage and capers. Actually pretty tasty.

Today’s lunch was the last of the chicken barley bean, a soup I made out of bits and pieces but will make again because it turned out so good. This is in fact the last of the soups, even though I still have turkey stock, and frozen veggies to make vegetable stock, but I have nothing to put in them. Were this truly the apocalypse I’d be sipping these broths and pulling anything edible out of the ground to add in. Someone brought me a wee sample of chicken with potato, carrot and peppers in tomato sauce. I scooped that up and a baby cupcake.

Tonight I cooked the last of the pasta with the last slices of beets, which made my pasta pink. I used a can of tuna, with garlic, capers, dill, Worcestershire sauce, chile peppers, the last of the kalamata olives, some Parmesan and…some red cabbage. I worried that I’d ruined this concoction, but the zombie pasta, with hints of red and pink like flesh, tasted pretty good. Kalamatas are fairly strong tasting but they worked.

I also had a chocolate pudding cake mix. I used the last egg, the last coconut (dry) and baked that, and then threw Frangelico on top. Not bad for three months in. Good thing I worked out tonight.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 77-81

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 77 (Mar. 17):

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This is starting to look more appealing. You can buy this delectable food here.

Ach, laddy, there will be a few green zombies today, I fear. St. Paddy will have to lead them away. I actually need to recap yesterday’s dinner. I boiled up some rice noodles, which turned out to be the really thin glass noodles. I made a sauce of garlic, oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, with a chunk of coconut cream I found in the fridge. Into that I dropped the mussels and clams and made a great sauce. Not only was it tasty but it was filling. Yes, the last week has seen the portions become a little more meager and because of that I’m often feeling a bit hungry. But hey, I can stand to lose a few pounds and become less appealing to zombies.

And speaking of the fiends, it definitely felt like they were gnawing on my brain today as I fought a cold that gave me a very bad sinus headache. I didn’t eat much because of it and just ate more glass noodles with olive oil, garlic, onion and Parmesan cheese. I felt better enough to drop by my friend’s in the evening and ate a few pieces of crackers and cheese but with my taste buds under siege there was a loss of appetite.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 78 (Mar. 18):

Sunday; a bit more appetite. I braved a half bowl of the roasted garlic and potato soup in the fridge. This time it sat okay in my belly but just. For supper I had a bowl of my veggie nut chile, with some of the last quinoa, Parmesan and flake yeast.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 79 (Mar. 19):

Lunch was the chicken bean barley soup. You’d think with this light a diet I’d be shedding pounds, but long ago I learned my body is great at preservation. I wouldn’t have to eat anyone for a very long time if we crashed at the top of a snow-covered mountain. I’ll probably start losing more weight once I’m eating bigger portions again. Supper was the last of the quinoa with the last of the veggie chile.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 80 (Mar. 20):

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Zombie age concoction. Not bad tasting but maybe it looks a bit like moldering zombie.

Day 80 but I’m not sure I’ll make it to 90 or even the end of this month. Lunch was the last of the spicy veggie peanut soup.

Supper’s new zombie age concoction was half of the last beet, a tin of tuna, capers, dill, the last of the onion, sundried tomatoes, a dried ancho chile, and some bad red wine that even zombies wouldn’t touch. All that on the last of the rice. I have to say the aroma was actually quite appealing.  And how did this concoction taste? The capers were tangy and salty against the sweetness of the beets. I tossed in two sprinkles of hot sauce as well, and mixed with the smokiness of the ancho chile this was another dish that was not bad. The tomatoes disappeared mostly into the background but added a bit of tangy and sweet. How long does it take to fry a diced beet? Half of forever, so either boil them first or be prepared to let them saute a good half hour at least.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 81 (Mar. 21):

Spring is officially here and I’m still cleaning out those cupboards. Lunch was the chicken barley bean soup, which at least is filling.

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Food fail. I concede defeat. These "muffins" are good for mortar and lobbing at zombies.

Supper; well there was some leftover zombie age concoction, so I had that. This large jar of honest-to-god Polish sauerkraut has been lurking in the fridge for years. That stuff could outlast cockroaches. It had caraway and that’s about it, so I scooped out about a half a cup and heated it. Salted cabbage. Do people really live on this stuff? The good thing is that it has 30% of my daily vitamin C and a healthy dose of iron, but seriously, I think it will outlive the diet.

And then I thought, what can I make with these jars of flour? There was a ship’s biscuits recipe that literally called for hammering the dough with a mallet and I was about to try it when a muffin book flipped open to rice flour blueberry muffins. I could make this work!

I needed 2 cups of rice flour but what I thought was rice flour was cornmeal. I had 1.5 c. potato flour and .5 c. of white flour. Tossed that in with the 4 tsp. baking powder. I mixed the 2 eggs, vanilla and 3 tbsp. olive oil (it called for vegetable oil) in a separate bowl. I didn’t have honey but used  1/2 c. of maple syrup. It’s about the same consistency, right? So I mix this all together and…get a lumpy dry mortar.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve made muffins but I know the batter should be a little moister than this. So I add water, and add water, annnnd add water, probably 2-3 cups! It’s gorpy, it’s gloppy and it’s lumpy. I folded in the berries, slightly moister than just blueberries, and then tried to drop the tenacious dough into the muffin tin. I baked it at 350 degrees, turned the heat up and baked some more. I added more water and tried a second batch baking for 60 instead of 20 minutes. Yes, forever! These things are bricks and probably only good for lobbing at zombies. Obviously, potato flour is very different from rice flour. They kind of became bread like but tasted awful.  It’s the eggs and syrup that seem the biggest waste here. Score one for the zombies.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 73-76

 

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If only I could make these for my Zombie Salon. Creative Commons: xsomnis, flickr BrettMorrison gallery

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 73 (Mar. 13):

Originally I predicted I could make it till March on the food in my place without buying any, and I have. I’ll make it to the ides of March but will I make it beyond? Anyone want to place a bet on which day I’ll capsize? I said I’d stop when there was nothing but condiments and alcohol, but I am becoming heartily sick of this diet. I miss my veggies. While there are a few veggies and frozen fruits left, I can continue but I won’t last long when they’re gone, not too mention the nutritive balance will be out the window. Right now I’ve at least been getting proteins, carbs and veggies though the portions have changed.

Breakfast was! Yes, molasses banana bread. That sucker keeps going but there is only one more slice left. And lunch was Apocalypse Pottage. Dinner was a simple fair of the last of my hearty pea soup.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 74 (Mar. 14):

I missed breakfast this morning and I’m thinking about zombies, not for food yet. Seriously, if I don’t like red meat and am averse to eating humans, zombies will be very far down on the list. I’d be chomping on every bush in the vicinity first. But how else could I deter the rage infested, virus-filled hyper-diseased zombie? Well obviously, do a better job of boarding up the place. If I’m going to hammer up boards I’m not nailing those boards on straight but driving the nails in at an angle so they can’t be pushed out. Better yet, use screws. If it’s the press of numbers there’s not a lot I can do. I’d also head for the country, where there are fewer zombies. I’d get the biggest mofo truck I could manage with a winch and a huge grill so I could ram anything out of the way. A flamethrower would certainly be helpful for fricassee zombie, and of course the spiky, all encompassing clothing. No going out without a crash helmet and hazmat suit. Let’s see a movie that actually has people acting intelligently in it.

And speaking of zombies, the creeping crud is attacking me. A cold sore has started and anyone who has ever had one knows you start to look like a zombie when your skin bubbles and blisters. So I had my pseudo clam chowder for lunch. Someone gave me a big bran muffin and I was only going to eat half but it was so tasty I ate it all. But not feeling very hungry, for dinner I had a bowl of good ole Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, which I found in the cupboard. There’s enough salt in that thing to keep a pasture of cows happy but the noodly goodness is an old comfort food.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 75 (Mar. 15):

Today, the ides of March, it felt like zombies had been clawing their way out of my throat. I had a doctor’s appointment in the

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Supposedly flaming zombies isn't a good thing but I'd like to believe they wouldn't see through the flames, nor smell anything but flaming zombie. From: jadedviewer.blogspot.com

morning so I got up for that but then came straight home. My mother used to give us hot water with brandy, lemon and honey when we had colds. Of course there was little brandy but my scratchy throat determined that I would have a giant mug with hot water, a liberal dollop of brandy, a squeeze of slightly dessicated lemon, and maple syrup,  since I have no lemon. I drank that and then went back to sleep.

While I was hungry when I awoke I was also feeling slightly queasy. I ate half a bowl of the roasted garlic and potato soup, which severely upset my stomach. The weird thing is that I can do raw or fried garlic but if it’s roasted it gives me terrible gas. I have two more containers in the freezer but the reaction was severe enough I’m seeing if my neighbors would like it. Which means, the larder will empty even sooner. I’ve been looking forward to using the panang curry with some canned crab but that’s a bit too spicy for a sore throat. I ate the last piece of molasses banana bread, and had another cup of the hot brandy toddy but a skin had formed in the maple syrup and fell into my cup. That slimy thick, snotty texture was truly disgusting and I had to fish it out. Blargh!

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 76 (Mar. 16):

The creeping crud and I are in a headlock. I’m not sure who’s winning. I’m feeling rather hungry having had nothing but soup for the last couple of days. I have some Ryvita crackers, rather tasteless, but I munched one down for breakfast. Lunch was the last of the Apocalypse Pottage made with beets, tomatoes, barley and tuna. Tonight I’ll probably do up some rice noodles and a bit of fish sauce, tuna and garlic, and maybe red cabbage.

Keeping with the zombie theme, I’m having a Zombie Salon, because I want peoples’ brains. Which means, I’ll have a few people over to actually discuss topics other than sports and the weather. Since I have lots of vodka I’ve offered up martinis. Not sure if I can do a zombie themed martini though. I’ll report on that in the next update.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 67-72

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Not hearts but canned tomatoes, one of my lifesaver vegetables so far into the Apocalypse Diet. Creative Commons: wwwbittersweetcook.com

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 67 (Mar. 07):

People have been asking how much money I’ve saved, how much weight I’ve lost. First, this isn’t a real diet since I was allowed to eat whatever is in my place. But I have had smaller portions. I’m the type of person who could crash at the top of a snowy mountain and it would be months before I would have to eat my fellow humans, because my body can hang on really really well to its weight. I don’t change weight a lot. Throughout this, I’ve continued to work out but the carbs have gone ups while the vegetables have gone down…slightly. I don’t weigh myself (see previous posts on eating disorders) so I think I might have lost five pounds, but that’s about it.

As for saving money, I think I spend around $40/week on food. That doesn’t include dining out. So if we look at that amount I’ve saved probably around $200. Not phenomenal but then I had bills to pay so “saving” isn’t quite right. The  money just paid some of those bills.

I’m in rinse and repeat cycle. Breakfast, the molasses banana bread with margarine. Lunch, previously frozen pseudo (no milk) clam chowder. Yes, by the time I get home after working out at 6 pm I’m usually starving.

I had one precious tin of tomatoes left. I took half the tin, mixed it with onions, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper and added in some shrimp and mussels to make a sort of pilaf. I added the rest of the rice from last night, and some engevita yeast for a slightly cheesy taste.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 68 (Mar. 08):

Rinse and repeat, molasses banana bread for breakfast. Lunch was the rest of the rice pilaf with shrimp and mussels from last night.

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Can you say grainzzz? Brains made from edible foods by Sara Asnaghi. Now that's zombie food I could eat.

That’s quite filling. I’m beginning to think I might not make it past March. 16th as I’ll be out of most foods, but we’ll see. There are still soups in the freezer and still tins of tuna.

Dinner was the last of the gyozas in the freezer, fried up with some soy and hot sauce. I also found a prehistoric package of  “dessert topping mix” by Weight Watchers. It’s a pseudo whipping cream so I whipped it with water and vanilla and it was ready. Then I took some of the frozen berries and a bit of coconut and mixed it together for dessert.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 69 (Mar. 09):

In my cupboard are jars of flour; chickpea, rice, potato, which I have had for half of forever. While I could take one of those package mixes and still bake a cake I think I’ll try a concoction at some point that will use up these dinosaurs.  In the meantime, breakfast has been the same as all week, banana bread.

Lunch was the chicken barley bean soup, and dinner was going over to a friend’s.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 70 (Mar. 10):

I was running around all day and didn’t really eat, besides two pieces of artichokes in oil, until 5:00. I was so hungry when I was out on the Drive, buying cat food that every food place I went by was a challenge. “Oh maybe I’ll just buy two slices of pizza; that sushi roll looks really good; falafel!; maybe some smoked salmon; I could just buy a cookie… And on it went, but somehow I made it home and cooked up pasta, with some of the canned tomatoes, garlic, curry spice, some tamarind, fenugreek, fennel, salt, pepper, chili peppers and the last carrot and prawns. Oh and I added some engevita or flake yeast, which is high in vitamins and adds a bit of a creamy cheesy texture.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 71 (Mar. 11):

Leftovers of the curry pasta from yesterday. Supper was a small bowl of homemade pea soup, and then popcorn with engevita yeast later on.

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Apocalypse Pottage; my desperate yet hearty concoction of the last of many things (with a sprinkle of flake yeast).

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 72 (Mar. 12):

Breakfast was another piece of banana bread with margarine though it was um…garlic banana bread because I forgot to clean the cutting board which was last used to chop garlic. Not too terrible though. Lunch was a bowl of my vegetarian nut chili.

Okay, what do you get when you mix the following ingredients: canned tomatoes, barley, quinoa, sesame seeds, garlic, a soft beet, olive oil, turmeric, dill, cayenne, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a can of tuna? Gruel, pottage, goulash? That is in fact what I made tonight and I’m beginning to think I have a sense of what gruel was in the Dark Ages. The turmeric offset the barley from the red of the beets and tomatoes. The hot sauce offset the sweetness of the beets. It wasn’t bad at all, which is good because I have another two days’ worth of it.  Maybe I should open up the Apocalypse Restaurant and serve Apocalypse Pottage.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 61-66

zombies, food, zombie food, eating, end of the world, apocalypse, dietseating, zombie food, apocalypse diet, food, cooking

Zombie food pyramid for a well-balanced diet. Creative Commons: http://www.geekstir.com

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 61 (Mar. 01):

I’m entering month three of the Apocalypse Diet. The fridge drawers are nearly empty, the freezer is mostly stocked; carbs, proteins and veggies are all running low. I think I’ve now entered the creative stage. Be prepared for bizarre pairings (mussels and beets, anyone?).

Breakfast was a brownie and lunch was my spicy vegetable peanut soup, one of my freezer stores.

I wasn’t that hungry for dinner, weirdly, so it was a small handful of almost nonexistent crackers and a bowl of quinoa with the thawed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) that I found in the freezer, and a drop of almond extract. Oh and yes, the last brownie.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 62 (Mar. 02):

Well, I have found out I’m anemic, which has nothing to do with the diet. I’ve tended toward anemia all my life but it’s actually been a few years since the last bout. I’m on supplements now to bring up my iron intake since drinking the blood of my victims is just too gross, and zombie blood is putrid. Some of the things that have iron are molasses, broccoli, sesame seeds, certain seeds…and I’m going to have to look it up but as we know, my cupboard is getting rather bare. I have lots of sesame seeds and molasses though.

Breakfast was the last of the almond butter, nearly the last rice cake, and a sprinkle of the last chocolate chips. Lunch was avgolemono soup. I had the last handful of fresh hazelnuts in the shell, plus a few crackers and calamata olives. A friend came over later with a pizza so that was the real dinner, along with the last of the lemonade and vodka added, though it was a rather meh drink.

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Molasses Banana Bread, dark and tasty

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 63 (Mar. 03):

Lunch, the leftover pizza of course. And now for the great banana bread with molasses experiment. I didn’t have any sugar except for cubes and while I could have tried maple syrup I have a lot of molasses sitting in my fridge, which has been there since dinosaurs roamed. I managed to use up one container but still have a second. I like my banana breads as bread, not cake, so I looked for the lowest sugar recipe (2/3 cups) and substituted the same amount in molasses. They say to add 1 cup of molasses for every 3/4 cups of sugar but I left it the same. Recipes also state not to substitute more than half of the sugar, but I did it all, under duress from the zombies banging against the walls. I thought this was due to how the bread would rise. I also like my banana bread nutty but the only nuts I have left are hazelnuts so I chopped up about 3/4 cup of those.

I added extra baking soda as required. I now have little shortening or flour left but there are all those wee jars with different types so the next baking experiment will involve them. I waited for the bread to bake and it rose perfectly, When I pulled it out of the oven I cut off the heel while warm and put margarine on. It was good! The substitute of half the sugar is about the taste but if you like molasses cookies you’ll like this bread. It’s strongly flavored but still light and very tasty. I actually had two pieces and I’m now full. Molasses is also high in iron so this will help with my anemia.

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Shrimp, carrots, onions, garlic and some dried basil on quinoa. Holy hot and tasty.

I found a packet of holy basil seasoning paste, and one of panang curry mix. The second calls for coconut milk so I put it back, but I mixed the seasoning with the last of the prawns, onion, carrot and garlic, chopped up the parsley, and ate it on quinoa. How’s that for a mashup?

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 64 (Mar. 04):

Roasted garlic and potato soup, plus two slices of molasses banana bread. Supper was the leftover shrimp and basil seasoning dish with quinoa. And then popcorn with margarine and engevita yeast, popped in a pot on the stove.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 65 (Mar. 05):

Breakfast was a good sized slice of molasses banana bread with margarine. Lunch was chicken barley bean soup, and a slice of chocolate cake for someone’s birthday. After working out I was really hungry so I had penne pasta with sundried tomatoes, garlic and a mix of mussels and clams. There were a few squid bits in there but because they were frozen I didn’t fry them properly and they were like an old boot. I chopped up the rest of the parsley and added that with some parmesan cheese, and ate the whole thing.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 66 (Mar. 06):

It seems that Noah could easily have kept enough food for 40 days and nights if I’m still going on Day 66. Breakfast was the banana bread again and almost clam chowder but after last night, I had to vary it. I had the spicy vegetable peanut soup. Tonight, well I think it’s time to have the last of the Brussels sprouts, with garlic and oil and parmesan, and a side of rice.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 59-60

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What zombies eat. See below for what I eat. Creative Commons: geekstir.com

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 59 (Feb. 28):

I think I figured out one way that I’ve not seen so far to deter zombies from chomping on a limb. This came while eating my veggie chili last night (with quinoa). Okay, so zombies are not gourmands. They’re happy to nosh on any fleeting limb, any fresh brain. They don’t care about herbs or spices or rubs or seasonings. If it’s fresh and raw, that’s all that matters. Now citrus repulses mosquitoes and rue works for cats, so what if  I coated myself in hot sauce? Think of it. Zombie goes to bite me and recoils in eye melting horror, then claws its face apart to get rid of the bad taste.

The only problem, well I might still get bitten and if it’s a gore spewing, super viral zombie such as in 28 Days Later, then I’m doomed to be a hot zombie. But maybe the smell would throw them off. And if that’s the case, then the other way would be rub rotting meat all over yourself so that they think you’re already dead. Again, that might be terribly gagarific but we do amazing things to stay alive.

While I was pondering ways to evade zombies last night I found frozen bananas in the freezer. Banana bread! Did I have flour? Yes. Did I have eggs? Yes. And sugar? Well, I have sugar cubes and I already know it takes pounding a lot of sugar cubes to get 2/3 of a cup. But what else? Maple syrup. Hmm, could work. No honey as I don’t like it. Sorry, bees. So I grabbed my trusty rusty book called Substituting Ingredients and they mention molasses. You know those dead soldiers that hide in your cupboards and fridges for years? I have two half containers of molasses. I won’t be making banana bread tonight but I foresee this happening in the next week.

The food for the day was pollo en mole with rice for lunch. I had a brownie snack. In the evening I went for dinner with a friend and had a massive jerk chicken roti, and ate the whole thing. It actually looked a bit like a week-old zombie leg.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 60 (Feb. 29):

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What lies in the murky depths? Beans, barley, chicken, celery, carrot, onion for a tasty soup.

Yes, it’s Day 60, AD! Leap day and two months of buying no food. For breakfast, a brownie. 🙂 For lunch the yummy chicken barley bean soup. Tonight is wing’s night with the boys so I’ll be having wings and cider. No calories on leap day I hear.

On trying to outwit and outlive the zombies, if I was venturing outdoors do you think I’d wear a T-shirt that bared my neck and arms, the most favorite eating spots for zombies? No way. If I couldn’t get a full-on hazmat suit and many big guns and machetes, I’d wrap myself in as many layers as possible, and tape things around my neck. Okay, they could maybe bite off my ears and nose, but I’d have less gnawable area visible. Seriously, a lot of these zombie movies have people as stupid as the brain-dead undead. Okay, the virus in 28 Days was a rage virus and was super contagious if you got any bodily fluids in your mouth or a cut, but still…

Short for the days this time. Celebrate the Apocalypse!

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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