Cairo Cauliflower (a slightly modified version from the original recipe in Cairo Kitchen: Recipes from the Middle East, Inspired By The Street Foods of Cairo, by Suzanne Zeidy.)
Whenever I am frustrated or anxious and feel like my life is not going the way I want it to I do one of two things and sometimes both – I go for a brisk walk and I cook.
I have been cooking since I was a young child. My first job in the kitchen, at the age of seven, was making vinaigrette dressing from scratch. All of my books have long wonderful scenes centered on food. In my book The Broker, my character Angela Abbott charms Bill Deering, (who is about to offer her a dream job with BFIC Insurance,) by telling him about her first dinner party at the ripe old age of twelve, that she prepared for her parents’ anniversary. That dinner party was taken from a real experience in my life, and because I was only twelve and couldn’t drive yet, the dinner consisted of the only thing at hand for a twelve year old, fried shrimp and lima beans from the freezer. Creating delectable delights in the kitchen is my “yoga”, my “run”, my go to activity to clear my mind, and restore balance to my being. A good part of my professional career involved food preparation, and I come from a family of very good, and intrepidly fearless, amateur cooks, and I can pretty much whip up something fabulous with anything that’s in my (or even your) kitchen.
Today’s Recipe: Cairo Cauliflower Salad
Today’s issue: Why the freak won’t people post reviews of my books on Amazon?
To start the cauliflower salad, set a big pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cut up a whole cauliflower into medium-sized florets and put into a bowl.
Here is what they tell me about my books:
“I loved it!”
“I couldn’t put it down!”
“You are a genius!”
“I can’t believe what a good writer you are!”
“I didn’t know you had this talent in you?”
“You are a very gifted writer.”
“It’s so well researched.”
Once the water comes to a boil, add ½ teaspoon of turmeric. Let it get mixed into the water, and then add the cut up cauliflower. Set your timer for about 5 or 6 minutes depending on the size of your florets (don’t overcook, less is better, you can always add another minute.) Then fill the bowl with ice water about half full.
Here are their excuses:
“I left it at my daughter’s house and she just sent it to me in the mail. I have to start all over because I can’t remember how far I got.”
“I got busy and forgot.”
“I don’t know how to use a computer.”
“I’ve never used Amazon.” (This apparently is legit. I had no idea you had to spend a minimum amount with Amazon in order to be able to leave a product review. This is dumb when it comes to books, and I’ve told them so!)
“I’ve been traveling.” (This is not legit, since you seem to be able to post on Facebook while traveling…)
This one just floors me, “Can I borrow a copy from you?” (Really? You can’t afford $5.99 for a Kindle copy?)
And this, from a woman who requested, through a trade publication, a free copy so she could write a review, is the excuse she used three times over 12 months, “My husband is having/has had/is recovering from hip surgery and I haven’t had time.”
While the cauliflower is cooking, cut two or three very thin slices of red onion, and then quarter them (Cut in half, then cut in half again). Place a teaspoon of white sugar in a small bowl of water and toss the onions in the sugar water and set aside.
I’ve been fuming about this for a while, because I’ve been literally begging people to post a review on Amazon. It is sooooo important for rankings, for obtaining an agent, a film or television deal, a foreign rights deal, for getting attention, for everything! And I’ve stressed to everyone to post honest reviews. I’m not asking anyone to lie or inflate the truth. 3 Stars, 4 Stars, 5 Stars or 1 – Amazon makes it very easy. (Is everyone really that damn busy? I’m asking you for one simple little thing that will take, literally, five minutes!)
While the onion is marinating, chop up a good bunch of parsley and cilantro, and put it into a large bowl. Slice about 15 olives – any kind will do (I like Kalamata, my husband likes regular old green ones with the pimento inside – if I expect him to eat it, I have to use his olives). Slice them kind of thin or you will get a big mouthful of olive. Quarter (or halve depending on their size) about 10 cherry tomatoes; yellow or red, and throw that in the bowl.
And so I’m wondering; how do authors today get people to review their books? (Some of them have thousands of reviews???) So I Googled, paying people to post book reviews on Amazon. And yes! There is a huge list of online comments, articles, and methods for doing this (I won’t mention the author who became an overnight sensation by buying something like 300 of these from a nefarious character outed by the NY Times). Apparently, this is frowned upon in the book world, because somehow, paying for Amazon customer reviews does not have the ring of legitimacy. (Yes, I get it, and no, I didn’t do it – as you can tell by the paltry number of reviews out there.)
Drain the cooked cauliflower and put it into the ice water bath to cool it and stop the cooking process. Whip up a little dressing by combining the juice of one lemon, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon of cumin, one mashed clove of garlic, a dash of salt and pepper, and some olive oil – about twice as much as the amount of lemon – and whisk. Pour it on, and then toss lightly. Sprinkle with chopped fresh or dried dill. Serve with Chicken Tikka Masala and Curried Indian Basmati Rice. (I know they are two different cultures but the flavors are perfect together.) Add some Indian Naan bread or Pita bread on the side.
So, I am asking, pleading, begging, all of you out there, anyone out there, who has read my books, please post a review on Amazon! It’s really, really important, and I swear to you, it’s really, really easy.