If you like great podcasts to find new books, check out This Book I Read… a podcast from Beyond Cataclysm. Each episode explores the ups and downs of a particular book or author’s work, highlighting the great bits, and critiquing the bad stuff. Get inside the minds of other writers and the works that inspire them!
Our very own Rachel A Rosen is on to talk about Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson.
Topics covered include:
Post-apocalyptic Toronto & Ontario. ‘White Flight’, inner city decline, ‘Donut cities’ and gentrification. The Afro-Caribbean diaspora, The Jab Jab & Roti Shops. The challenges of predicting the future back in the 1990s.
In this episode, Mexie speaks with Tory Stephens, founder of Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors. Imagine 2200 is a climate fiction initiative at Grist magazine which showcases stories from authors from around the globe that are all in the visionary fiction genre (Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, solarpunk, etc.), providing inspiration on how we might get to a sustainable, reciprocal, and just world. We dig into all things visionary fiction, including its political significance and how crucial it is to decolonize our imaginations and reclaim our radical creativity to craft solutions for this current historical moment.
Plus, they also give a short review of The Sad Bastard Cookbook, and we might be biased but we think their options on this cookbook are perfect. Listen here!
I’ve never reviewed a cookbook before, but there is a first time for everything!
Let’s start with the cover: This design took me back to the cookbooks my parents used to have–the composition, the color–the ramen… with ketchup on it? Siracha? Is that blood??? Ok, this isn’t my parents’ cookbook. Childhood and nostalgia is over and cooking is actually a bitch (and if you live alone/are broke/are sick/unlucky at feeding yourself or some intersection of multiple of those, it’s just that much worse). Luckily, the authors get that entirely.
So this is a collection of not so much recipes (which promise to make a delicious presentation in fantasy, but in reality, often provide more stress with complicated ingredients and preparations and PRESSURE to not fuck up)–it’s more a collection of tips; concrete looser guidelines that result in meals, without strict measurements. Which results, hopefully, in another day where one of us could feed our sorry asses and feel a little less like a fuckup. It’s also funny! And this book is free ❤ So I recommend you give it a download; the recipes are great to peruse and to collect ideas for those mental rainy days (weeks?? :////)
I received an Advance Reader Copy in return for an honest review.
Some days, there’s not enough time. Some days, you just don’t have the energy. Some days, you feel like a sad bastard and literally don’t know what to do. That’s when you pick up The Sad Bastard Cookbook and just read. It will make you laugh. It will keep you company. It will help you find something to cook, on your level for the day. Make the core recipe, add something if you feel for it, or—on a good day—go all in.
The Sad Bastard Cookbook has already saved my ass several times when it comes to solve the “what’s for dinner” question. The recipes are simple and you’ve probably made most of them before. But here’s the thing; it’s up to you where you set the bar. You don’t have to follow the recipe strictly, but, if you need it, there are a lot of suggestions how to pimp your food. And, it will taste good!
Depression can feel like being the body during an out-of-body experience. Or like being a rickety boat sailing a beam sea. You can find it an ordeal to do even the simplest things—like eating. This cookbook understands that you might be broke or even poor, beaten down by fatigue, unable to cope with basic physical tasks, and/or lacking the wherewithal to open a jar of jam. The book prods you, with a gentle humour that is sympathetic to your depressive paralysis, to get something down your gullet.
Some of the recipes here satisfy the minimum requirements of what might be called actual recipes—but then there are “Peanut Butter on a Spoon” or “Eat a Dill Pickle Out of the Jar While Standing in Front of the Fridge”. How do these qualify as recipes? Well, I myself have experienced spirits low enough that basic life tasks went undone simply because there was nobody standing there telling me, “Now do this. Next do that.” The Sad Bastard Cookbook recognises that, some days, you’re probably going to max out simply by taking one thing (hopefully not mouldy or expired) from your cupboard and choking it down raw.
But remember, you could take not one but two things, or at the God-Tier level three things, combine them, zap them in the microwave, and satisfy basic caloric intake requirements in a slightly less sorry-ass way, even as you continue to stagger under the crushing burden of your depression. Which is a way, maybe, to be slightly less sad.
In addition to genre classics like Watchmen and Welcome to Night Vale,The Sad Bastard Cookbook is chock-full of references to books that we wrote and that our friends wrote. Why? Because sharing art and sharing food are vital acts of community. That’s what Night Beats is about—a community of people who support each other. And stories are as important to life as eating.
If you’ve signed up to the mailing just to get the cookbook, that’s cool! But consider sticking around for a bit and checking out the rest of the Night Beats community. If you liked the cookbook, you might like them too.
Without further ado, here are the books we reference in Sad Bastards, rated on a scale of how Sad the Bastards are in it and how much they need our cookbook.
Cascade by Rachel A. Rosen. Rachel’s overworked wizard-bureaucrats barely eat between trying to prevent a climate apocalypse and avoiding the maybe-dead maybe-not elder god stirring in the depths of the ocean. And that’s without even getting into the queer disaster that is their personal lives. Do any of them know how to cook? It is doubtful. 5/5 peanut butter spoons. Get Cascade from Bumblepuppy Press, Amazon, or your favourite online ebook provider.
So Human As I Am by Rachel A. Rosen, illustrated by Marten Norr. The prequel to Cascade, this chapbook is about Ian, Jonah, and Blythe in their activist days. When you’re a broke twenty-something anarchist trying to figure out life, sexuality, and your curse of prophecy, cooking elaborate dinners isn’t a priority, or even a possibility. Someone put food in these sad bastards’ faces. 5/5 peanut butter spoons. Get the limited edition chapbook from Bumblepuppy Press.
“Alinda” in Into the Unknown by Rohan O’Duill. Space rations get pretty dull when you’re exploring a mysterious artifact. Since Rohan is such a great cook, though, we suspect his characters have some skill in the kitchen, at least when they’re planetside. 1/5 peanut butter spoons. All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to the World Literacy Foundation, so pick up your copy!
“Birds of Fortune” in Into the Unknown by Emma Berglund. Treasure maps, flirting, and being chased by your enemies all require a lot of easily transportable sustenance. 5/5 peanut butter spoons. This is two stories for the price of one—Emma and Rohan both contributed to and edited the Into the Unknown anthology, so you get both stories in the same book.
A+E by Rysz Merey. Gender-nonconforming artistic sad sacks cannot survive on orange Tic Tacs alone. 5/5 peanut butter spoons for Ash, but Eu eats all of them. Get it from tRaum Books.
Most Famous Short Film of All Time by Tucker Lieberman. Lev and his friends actually eat pretty well during their campfire talks, but the Diversity Committee could always use a new recipe or two. 3/5 peanut butter spoons and a hug. Get it from tRaum Books.
Melancholic Parables by Dale Stromberg. Bellatrix runs a bakery in at least one of her incarnations, so she’s at least got it together food-wise. Even if she’s sometimes a mouse, sometimes radioactive, and sometimes a supervillain in these weird, brief moments of magical realism. No peanut butter spoons. Get this new release of microfiction here.
The Things We Couldn’t Save by Nicole Bea. There’s nothing worse than being a teenager in 2006 with limited text messages, a crush, and a faltering best-friendship. But Clarke still lives at home, and her parents are good cooks. 2/5 peanut butter spoons. Pre-order your copy (and check out the pre-order incentives!) here.
Sushi and Sea Lions by Rachel Corsini. Dany is a former prima ballerina, student teacher, and unlucky in love. She’s also a terrible cook. 4/5 peanut butter spoons, because then she wouldn’t give her date food poisoning. Sign up for an advance copy to read it first.
The Devil You Know by Nicole Northwood. If you’re the Demon of Lust and you escaped Hell to run the Hedonism Hotel in New York City, you’ve got problems on your hands. Like being chased by demon hunters, or accidentally falling in love with your night manager, Giselle. But you’re not short on extravagant food. 0/5 peanut butter spoons. Check out Nicole’s website for more info.
Query by Zilla Novikov. Many things in life are terrible, including but not limited to: the climate apocalypse, workplace spats, and trad publishing. Zilla can’t get her novel signed to an agent, and she can’t protect the Greenbelt from a bypass being built through it. But she might make some friends along the way. 3/5 peanut butter spoons for Meatless Monday. When real-life Zilla manages what her fictional counterpart cannot and signs this book, she’ll announce it on this very website. It’s all very meta.
As a psychiatrist taking care of patients with severe and treatment-resistant depression, I was delighted to find The Sad Bastard Cookbook, as I felt I could easily recommend it to the patients struggling with lack of motivation, those who skip meals and lose weight because cooking feels so overwhelming.
This cookbook, while mostly catering to vegetarians and vegans, would probably get quite a few people feeling more confident in their ability to open their fridges and cupboards and find something to put together, no matter how long ago their last shopping trip had been. The recipes aren’t complex at first glance, but they’re also endlessly customizable, with something so simple as an egg or Sriracha sauce capable of transforming a package of Ramen noodles into an easy and nutritious meal. I also appreciated the absence of measurements – when was the last time a depressed person had the energy to measure cups and tablespoons? My favorite recipe, I’ll admit, is peanut butter on a spoon – which I indulge in every time I’m doing thirty procedures in a day. I don’t have a lot of time or options for an afternoon snack, but the hospital does provide peanut butter in little plastic packages. It also provides spoons. It’s a nutritious, filling meal that the authors are correct in proudly including here – as I’m sure it could keep people alive in a pinch.
The authors also display an impressive sense of humor and empathy—it’s a book that understands the struggle of having to eat—and make—several meals a day. But one doesn’t have to be depressed to appreciate the craft on display here—many of these recipes, especially those in the God tier, are delicious and would be an excellent addition to any family’s weeknight meal. And I’m looking forward to being able to buy it as gifts for my friends and colleagues.
Being a chef for the last 25-odd years means I have amassed a vast collection of hundreds of cookbooks. I have all the classical French cookbooks. I have cookbooks from cuisines around the world. I have cookbooks on ancient techniques and ones on modern cooking hacks. But The Sad Bastard Cookbook is the only one tos ever made me laugh out loud.
While this book provides very handy and quick recipes, it is so much more than a cookbook. It is a companion through tough times, a crutch when you are struggling, and a shared smile when you need just that.
Saying that, these recipes still provide essential nutrients and energy. The Peanut Butter on a Spoon recipe is a great example of that. Two tablespoons of peanut butter provides you with almost 200 calories, it is high in healthy fats and protein. It is a dense, high-energy food source that also tastes great and requires no preparation whatsoever.
The frozen yoghurt recipe is another favourite of mine. The yoghurt provides you with protein and calcium to keep your body running. The freezing process does not destroy the probiotics, so you still gain the digestive benefits and the advantages to your immune system. The added banana is packed full of vitamins and minerals to really round out the meal.
These are not gourmet recipes, and it would be advisable to create more diverse and balanced food plans when you are able. But this book will get you by and introduce variety when you just can’t make that extra effort.
The real beauty of this book is that many of the recipes and anecdotes were crowd sourced. There is an unquestionable authenticity to them that is refreshing and charming. This book is a survival guide written by survivors. It is a heartfelt resource that many people will draw on for years to come.