It’s been ages since I’ve made anything labour-intensive or from scratch, but a big part of that was being sick off and on for year (the other part was various mental health issues, though of course those were compounded by my physical health issues). But I’ve been consistently doing simple meal prep for months now and rebuilding habits is sort of like having to rebuild skills (which I’ve also done several times after being sick). I used to love cooking things from scratch but have largely gotten out of the habit, though with Christmas coming up I thought I’d try to do something for my own personal little meal (provided I’m feeling up to it with Shawn’s upcoming surgery stressing me out during that time).
Ham was one of the few meats I really liked as a carnivore, probably because of the salt content. I never miss meat, though I make fake chicken now for things, and while I get Tofurkey’s smoked ham deli slices, it isn’t quite the same, and it certainly doesn’t make a roast.
Enter this “pig saver” vegan ham recipe.
I like working with seitan, but I’ve never tried washing flour before, so I am intrigued!
And yes, yes, it’s bread. I’m making ham out of bread. Carnivores, I’ve heard it all: take your mockery elsewhere.
I’ve done my dough balls, washed the starch out, and now they’re resting again (I took a pic but…it is not appetizing looking lol). I have to make up some smoked salt, then I’ll be ready to combine them. It’s a multi-day process, but I used to make aged vegan cheese with rejuvelac so that doesn’t bother me.
With costs of everything skyrocketing–my rent goes up in January again, pet food and litter is up, groceries are up, etc–the flour-washing might be something I use next year to make chicken for salads and wraps and things. And getting plain vital wheat gluten can be tricky sometimes–bless all of you gluten-free folks, but it’s meant it’s trickier for me to find just a bag of gluten.
The gluten has to rest a lot, so I’m doing this between reading books for editing. I have about two and a half weeks to finish two books and get drafts of a cover out, and then it’s rest–sweet rest (or worrying, because of Shawn’s surgery, but at least I’ll be 100% on worry).
Kneading dough and washing out starch is like running, it gives my brain time to rest and I need more of that. I’m working out knots for the end of Waverly 4–I’ve got about 10K left to write on this messy, messy zero draft, and I know the very end, but trying to weave this together is…tough. The book is honestly like making this vegan ham, and I’m at the stage where I need to wash some starch out but it’s just falling apart in my hands.
I’m also suffering wavering confidence with this series because I have no idea how it’s going to be received. I’ve got a solid draft of book one ready–early next year, I’ll be tackling the final draft before copyedits, so I’ve got that time to revisit it and see if I’m properly setting up everything from the main mystery to the series tone.
I have zero interest in writing the same book over and over again, which I realize frustrates some people because that’s what they want: their procedural standalone drama that’s the same tight forty-two minutes with the same beats. But I’ve always let character dictate everything, from structure to pacing, which is most obviously apparent in Demons of Oblivion with the widely different narrators but both Livi’s and Waverly’s arcs do the same from book to book.
It’s Livi that has me second-guessing Waverly because the two series are structured very similarly (adventure/mystery-of-the-week but also overriding plot arc, like Buffy). I continually wonder what I could’ve done different with Solomon’s Seal to better set up the rest of the series, but I think I was a) relying on subtext being extremely obvious (Livi is an adrenaline junkie; that is not normal, it’s a coping mechanism, that will eventually have to be deconstructed) and b) seeing the series arc in my head and how it moves book to book organically instead of just focusing on that book by itself. The darker tone later in the series was always there at the beginning, for me–I didn’t suddenly decide to go dark in the fifth, as I’d been planning to kill ____ then, and that way, since the end of Solomon’s Seal. West’s presence and their angst was always going to build to a head by this point. Livi was independent to a fault due to her parents abandoning her at different points so her arc was always going to involve needing to rely on others so she learns to ask for help (she gets it from me–she will not ask for help and has to be forced by circumstances to accept it).
This was never a dumb mindless popcorn series–it’s always been meant to grapple with long-term trauma and how we move forward in the world when we’re shaped by our PTSD, just in the way I enjoy which is over-the-top adventure. Because, hai, I’ve got PTSD and I’m a DV survivor and I’ve got anxiety and depression, and writing books is how I process things.
So in my head, I still keep pulling apart Solomon’s Seal to its pieces to figure out what I could’ve done differently, done better, while still easing readers into the journey, and how I can apply that now to Waverly. Because I want to learn and do better.
But I have no idea. I wrote it a decade ago, and even with that level of distance, I can’t figure it out.
I function best as a writer when I’m a megalomaniac, and my brain right now is the opposite of that. I dislike it immensely.
It amazes me how often we have drama in the book world because writers and publishers will advertise books as things they are not–usually trying to cash in on those romance dollars with women’s fiction or tragi-porn–and meanwhile me, who sells next to nothing, wants to reach through the screen and beg various people to please go buy something, anything, else. I can’t fathom trying to mislead people just to sell books.
I know money is money, but I’ve never wanted to be someone’s hate-read, and if you’re four books in and you literally hate a) one or more main characters, and b) the overriding plot arcs and character arcs, my god, please save yourself. Because I am writing exactly the books I would want to read, and while I can identify a few missteps (mainly that I should’ve found a way to work the plot of Ashford’s Ghost into a main novel, given its ties to later in the series), everything I’ve published is written exactly as I want them to be. West is integral to the plot and Livi’s life, he’s not going anywhere (unless I kill him, and I’m hoping not to); Livi’s PTSD is integral to her character and it’s not going anywhere; the bigger conspiracies and mysteries are integral to her adventures and will come back book to book. If you literally hate 75%+ of what I’m doing with the series, we have different tastes!
And that’s cool. I’m not writing it for everyone; I’m writing it for the people who DO like it. Life is too short to be miserable! If you’re reading something that is clearly not what you want it to be, write your own book. That’s why everything I’ve written exists in the first place.
Anyway, I’m exhausted, and frustrated, and I wish I could rest like my gluten is right now.
It’s time to smoke my salt. I will report back on how the vegan ham goes.
Also, patrons, the penultimate bundle of Soul Spell chapters are up–there’s one more coming in January, then the book will be done! Final edited version will be coming sometime late spring or early summer.