Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Incarceron" Book Review

Incarceron, written by Catherine Fisher, poses an interesting concept of a living prison that is capable of reacting to the actions of the inmates, as well as communicating with those that will listen.

The story circles around Finn, who may or may not be the long lost crown prince; and Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, engaged to be married to the remaining prince. They live in a world not too different from another's. Finn is stuck in the true prison of Incarceron and Claudia, in the gilded cage of the Outside. The Outside is frozen in an earlier century, ironically through the use of technology (called Protocol) and advancement in anything is forbidden.

There are a number of interesting twists that if it were a movie, might come across like a cross between Matrix and Labyrinth. Incarceron is a very cold and mechanical place, contrasted by the organic facade of the Outside. Definitely worth a read. It's pretty well written and has lively enough characters. Admittedly, their roles aren't that original, but Fisher doesn't let that get in the way of the story.

The next book in the series is Sapphique. If I get around to it (my to-be-read-list is rather massive... >.>), Incarceron was good enough that I would give book two a try.

My library is directing the book towards the teen audience, though I would be willing to suggest it for early tweens (Amazon suggests 12+). The text is clean and if I remember correctly, there was no graphic violence.

Stars: 4/5
-main characters could've had a more original twist, but it doesn't hinder the story.

Purple Yam Fries

I recently found a love of baking potato chunks in the oven, marinated with a bit of cooking oil, salt and herbs; a trick I learned from a friend of mine. Since then, I've been experimenting the process on other root vegetables, namely yams, sweet potatoes, Japanese yams, and purple yams.
The batch before last, contained purple yams. I had the vague notion that they might also be good as baked fries. Today, I tried it and oh...were they! They're a nice balance between potato fries and yam fries. They're not as sweet and have more of the lumpy texture of potato fries.

Because of their original purple color, this is definitely one of those treats that tastes better than it looks.

If you want to try it out for yourself, here's how to do it:

To give you an idea of how much there is, the plate in the picture is a little larger than a salad plate and kind of bowl-shaped.

-Set oven to preheat at 400 F.
-Take 4 medium sized purple yams and wash and scrub them.
-Peel and chop them into 1/4" or so fries. You'll end up with some smaller ones from the edges. That's ok. Just toss them in the bowl with the rest. You just don't want all of them too small or they'll singe.
-In a large bowl, coat the yam fries with a high temp suitable cooking oil of your choice. I used grape seed oil and gently turned the fries by hand.
-Line an appropriately sized cookie sheet with foil (or if you don't mind cleaning, I suppose you could leave it bare). My yams laid out in a single layer took up a whole 17.25" x 11.5" x 1" sheet.
-Lightly sprinkle with salt if you like.
-Bake for 30 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet 180 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fries and how crisp you want them.

Note: the rotation may or may not matter. My oven is gas and tends to be hotter in the back, hence why I choose to. I didn't cook as much when we had an electric oven, so I don't remember if that was the same issue or not.