In which it’s Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all the American chickens out there! And happy Thursday to the rest. Enjoy this repost of my chat with Sarah Wendell. Hope you have a great weekend–and on November 30, we have a VERY special treat in store, so be sure to check back!

As promised, here is the second half of my conversation with Sarah including her recipe for spicy sweet potato latkes.We pick up where we left off yesterday with a discussion of man Spanx. (NOTE: there is a link to a film trailer on YouTube that may or may not be appropriate for family viewing. Okay, Sarah recommended it when we were discussing vibrators. Let’s just ASSUME it’s not suitable.)

SW: I can only presume that Spanx for men were created in the days of Fabio’s cover modeling. it would explain a lot. 

“Occasional migraine?” Wasn’t your poor hero in a fiery pit of migraine hell complete with steam in book 2? Brisbane in the Bath would be a marvelous erotic short (or long) though. Ahem. 

 I confess, as not-picky as I am about historical details (I’m really not. I care very much about dialogue but I joke that if a duke drove a Porsche to Almack’s I wouldn’t much care), I always imagine that, even off screen, the heroines wash their hair more often than they probably did just so I don’t have to imagine them having itchy scalp attach. 

 Have you come across any Victorian garments that were truly shocking? 

 DR: I usually send him into a fiery pit of migraine hell every other book or so. I’ve also poisoned him, shot him, stabbed him, and blown him up a wee bit. But he just keeps coming back…

The most shocking Victorian snippets from my research usually don’t have to do with the clothing. There was as fad for nipple piercing in the 19th century, and some aristocratic ladies even sported tattoos. (Winston Churchill’s American mother sported a snake inked around her wrist.) And people are always VERY surprised to learn that the vibrator is a Victorian invention. It was created by doctors for therapeutic in-office use!

 SW: OMG. Have you seen the movie about the invention of the vibrator, and all that in-office use?!

DR: No–and I’m really not sure I want to…do you have a link for readers? Because you can’t just dangle something like that in front of them and not deliver. That makes you a film tease.

 SW: Couldn’t remember the name – here it is! Came out in September. I so rarely see movies in the theatre, so I’m waiting for the On Demand option, where I can pause to get more beer and no one talks back to the screen. 

DR:  Understood. I’ve gotten very cranky about going to movie theatres myself. I find bringing a split of champagne in my purse helps a LOT.

SW: Kids movies, I don’t care. But movies are more than $10, and I don’t want to hear chucklehead comments in the seats around me. 

Next after the break: GET OFF MY LAWN. 

 DR: Oh, yeah. I go into crabby old lady mode VERY quickly at the movies. I also don’t approve of texting during the film. If there’s not a scrub nurse waiting for you with a liver in a cooler, you’re not that important.

SW: If you can’t dim the screen so that it doesn’t bother people around you, you’re clearly short a few key points of social etiquette, yes. 

I wonder what Victorian rules of conduct would be for cell phones, texting and movies?

 DR: I suspect a few arch glances and maybe a sharp rap on the knuckles with a fan from a testy lady of advanced years. Of course, they were more worried about getting spit upon in the street or walking through manure, so it’s all relative.

I wonder what they would have made of iPhones. I’ve just spent the last hour persuading mine to accept more music so I can shove a holiday playlist on there because I AM READY TO BE FESTIVE but it keeps trying to thwart me. (If anyone is looking for recommendations Annie Lennox’s Christmas album is fab–as is Pink Martini’s.)

SW: I love Annie Lennox but I confess, Ubiquitmas is tiresome when I start running into it in October. Before Halloween.

Then again, I am Jewish so that might have something to do with it. This year we party like it’s 5762, because Hanukkah stretches over Christmas and that means epic sales for the last few nights! Booyah!

I think Victorians would have been exceptionally good at sexting though!

DR: I’m a southerner, so I feel I would be one with the latke if I were Jewish. You know how we feel about the fried foods. And I was very happy to see the Nordstrom announcement that they weren’t decorating until after Thanksgiving. I am pushing it a bit with the music, but I absolutely will not decorate until I’ve eaten my own body weight in turkey and dressing.

And yes, Victorians loved their porn, so sexting would have been right up their dark and dirty alley. It’s deeply fascinating to compare how fast new technologies–still photos, moving pictures, internet–were used to record salacious images. It always amuses me when people think that Victorians were so different from us because really, NOTHING changes about human nature.

 SW: I make spicy sweet potato latkes. They are divine, honestly. So good. And I hear you about Thanksgiving. I haven’t started shopping and I won’t do any until after turkey coma. Did you see Kohls was going to open at midnight Thursday with sales? Open all night? No effing way.

Nothing changes at all! I think each generation likes to think it invented all the good stuff.

DR: Spicy sweet potato latkes? You have just killed me dead. In a very good way. Come down south anytime you like. With that recipe you would be more than welcome!

 I don’t do Black Friday at all. That day is for college football and turkey sandwiches. And stores opening at midnight is just messed up! 

 And you’ll be happy to know that when I dropped a spoon into the toaster this morning, the first thing I did was holler “Bugger damn!” It’s reflexive now…

 SW: We like to do all online shopping on Friday, if our kids will let us get on the computer that long.

“Bugger damn” would be a great name for a band. Or a blog. OR A BOOK. Lady G would totally say that.

DR: May I include the recipe with our chat?

SW: Of course!

Makes about 24 latkes. Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar (I used Splenda bc I’m out of sugar. Worked fine.)
2 heaping tsp curry powder (MORE SPICE BABY YEAH)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (like hotter with slow burn as you take another bite? Add more.)
1/4 tsp pepper
scant 1/4 tsp dry mustard
2 eggs beaten (Kinky!)
1/2 cup milk (we used Lactaid; lactose is not change I can believe in).
4 cups grated peeled sweet potatoes
plus oil for frying

Mix the dry ingredients (flour through mustard). Stir in eggs and milk until blended. Add sweet potatoes and fold with a spatula or your fingers to coat thoroughly

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. I used enough vegetable oil that it was probably between 1/4 and 1/2 inch deep.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls into oil. Let set for about 30 seconds, then press gently to flatten out. In my big honking skillet I could fry about 6 or 7 at a time.

Fry for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Add more oil if you need it.

Drain on rack covered with paper towels. Try to avoid eating while they’re piping hot (ow. Good luck with that).


I tried making bigger than heaping-tbsp size, and they were soggy in the middle, so keep to the smaller size for browned, crispy latkes with chewy centers. The batter will get soggy at the bottom so stir every now and again to mix the potatoes with the wet stuff.

We’re serving with honey mustard, chipotle mayo, drizzled honey and whatever else I think will taste good.

Happy Hanukkah!

And that’s it, dear chickens! Huge thanks to Sarah for her gracious visit to this little corner of the blogosphere. (And as a side note to the discussion in comments yesterday: it is interesting to note that Brisbane’s name is Old French for “breaker of bones”. Oh, yes, yes, it is…)