Book Bites: Mellified with E. Catherine Tobler

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Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

E. Catherine Tobler has never eaten honey to the point she’s dissolved, but has probably come pretty close.

In her spare time, she edits the short fiction magazine Shimmer and keeps a close eye on the itinerant badgers who set the type.

Today, she’s joining Book Bites to talk about her latest Folloy-Mallory Adventure: The Honey Mummy.

Please welcome E. Catherine Tobler!


 

I didn’t plan on honey.

I needed a character to survive the loss of her forearms. In the 19th century. In a broken Alexandrian catacomb where images of a Roman Anubis still mark the walls. What might seal her wounds until a doctor could climb down? What ancient things were stored in tombs and catacombs? Pots of honey for the afterlife? Oh.

What else could I do with honey and death and Egypt and–oh, hey, mummies. There were rumors of people who gave themselves up to science, consuming honey until it consumed them, at which point they were placed in sarcophagi, and allowed to ferment in honey for hundreds of years. This honey was said to be used by doctors for all manner of cures.

We know honey to be antimicrobial, that it can ease burns and ulcers and other tummy upsets. It can keep for centuries (the oldest honey might be 5500 years old!); ancient Greeks thought of it as ambrosia; in Hinduism, honey is considered an elixir of immortality; and the Egyptian god Min was often called “master of bees.” Old, old, honey, what might you do?

It would be very easy to give you a recipe for a honey cake, which is why I’m giving you something savory instead:

Honey garlic chicken thighs!

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or teriyaki
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted or not
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Whisk all ingredients together in your crock pot. Nestle the thighs into the sauce and smoosh them around until they’re well coated. The trick here is low and slow; 6-8 hours on low. Your chicken will probably cook through at hour three, and it’s perfectly fine to eat then, but if you let it continue, the honey starts to caramelize, and you will wonder what kind of witchcraft took place in your slow cooker. Fortunately, honey isn’t witchcraft. (Or is it?)

I like to serve this chicken over rice (but noodles would also do!), with freshly sliced green onions and a sprinkling of more sesame seeds. You could also easily spice it up with a little red pepper flake.


 

E. Catherine Tobler’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award ballot, among others. You can find her online at www.ecatherine.com and @ecthetwit on Twitter.

Read more about The Honey Mummy on Goodreadsand then check out the whole Folley-Mallory adventure series!

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