Posted by Rachel

Oh, btw, yes, we had a great time during the eclipse, and I hope you all got to see it as well. My parents and I hosted seven guests (some just briefly). Luckily we had wonderful luck during the actual eclipse, with clouds around us but nothing threatening . . . until two minutes before totality, when a small cloud crossed the sun. It got out of the way with thirty seconds to spare, a real nail-biter for timing, but delightful in retrospect because it worked out just fine.

I didn’t take many pictures, not having special equipment or anything, but here is a picture created at Mineral Area College, by layering 80 frames from a camera connected to a telescope, if I understand correctly:

And here are before and after pictures of shadows on our deck, showing how the crescents reverse direction:

The whole thing would definitely have been worth driving for, but I must say, it was even better if you could just watch it perfectly from your own home. One of the neatest things I didn’t expect was how the light just . . . turned . . . up after totality, exactly as though God were turning a dimmer switch. We were all watching the eclipse too closely to see how that worked as the sun went out, but it was so interesting as it came back out. I did hear one lone nearby cricket chirp during the darkest period, and a neighbor’s rooster started crowing when the sky lightened afterward.

Our friends from Chicago drove home that afternoon; the drive took them nine hours (instead of the normal six). But at that they were lucky; check out this article from the Chicago Tribune!

Here’s hoping for similar luck in eight years, when once again my house and my parents’ home will be in just the right spot!

Postscript: if you’ve never happened to read Annie Dillard’s essay about the experience of a total eclipse, here it is online.

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Posted by Rachel

Here’s another of Marie Brennan’s posts at Book View Cafe: New Worlds: Curse You!

I don’t mean profanity (though there’s a degree of overlap there). I mean actual malevolent attempts to cause someone harm by supernatural means. Sometimes people do this deliberately, out of a desire for power or revenge; other times it’s a subconscious process, the metaphysical consequence of negative emotions like anger, jealousy, or fear. … Many curses amount to codified ill-wishing, with a profoundly fuzzy boundary between religion and magic.

Interesting post, lots of great ideas for worldbuilding, and if in the future I have someone put up a horse’s head on a pole, facing their enemy, you can definitely blame Brennan.

This would totally creep out your enemies

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Posted by Rachel

This is a funny and possibly even helpful post about writing descriptive blurbs for your book:

_______(Main Character name) is a ____________. She lives in ________ and what she wants most in the world is _________. But that’s not possible because ________. So she did ______. Well, that didn’t work out very well because_______ and ______. Then along came _________. He/she/they did ___________ and __________ and ______. That made things even worse because _________. Now it looked like _______(Main Character name) would never get what she wanted. But then, one day, __________happened. Would _______ (Main Character name) finally find the __________ she was seeking? This _________(tone of book, i.e. suspenseful, gripping, lyrical, etc.) story of _________(type of story, i.e. intrigue, mystery, romance, etc.), captures the spirit of ___________ (setting or tone) and confirms the power of _______ (theme or message).

It’s funny because it’s so ridiculous. But, as the author of this post suggests, it’s possibly helpful because it can kick the author our of a helpless gazing-at-the-blank-page and get him or her moving toward an actually usable blurb: Of course — of course — this is not the final book blurb. But it shifted the author out of frustration mode and put her in marketing mode. It gave her a new, clear, simple way to think about her book. It was just goofy enough to wipe out her “marketing writer’s block” and open up her floodgates of creativity.

I can see how it would work that way, at least potentially, some of the time.

Also, even if it’s not the least bit useful for you, it’s still funny.

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Books read in 2017

Aug. 21st, 2017 04:38 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

48. Where the Dead Lie, C.S. Harris
47. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
46. Just One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor (e)
45. Wildfire, Ilona Andrews (e)
44. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (e) (re-read)
43. The Rose and the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh
42. Blaze of Memory, Nalini Singh (read aloud w/Steve)
41. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
40. Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir, Mark Vonnegut MD (e)
39. The Rule of Luck, Catherine Cerveny (e) (arc)
38. The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
37. The Girl with Ghost Eyes, M.H. Boroson (e)
36. Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
35. White Hot, Ilona Andrews (e)
34.  The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Tom Reiss (e)
33. Mouse and Dragon, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (e)
32. Caszandra, Andrea K. Host (e)
31. Lab Rat One, Andrea K. Host (e)
30. Stray, Andrea K. Host (e)
29. The Cat Who Turned On and Off, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
28. Apprentice in Death, J.D. Robb (e/l)
27. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
26. The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs (e)
25. Hanged for a Sheep, Frances and Richard Lockridge (e)
24. Xamnesia, Lizzie Harwood (e)
23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

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Posted by Sharon

So, last night, just as we were going to bed, we had a bat invasion.  Followed a fun-filled 45 minutes while we convinced the coon cats that it was not their bat, but our bat; got Scrabble back from the Big Dark Outside, when she strolled while we were holding the door open for the bat to exit; and last but not least, I executed a net-throw that would have won applause in any gladiatorial display, and brought the bat down mid-flight, into the shopping bag that Steve was holding ready.

Yes, sometimes we really are that good.  The “net” by the way, was a mosquito net meant to be worn over a hat.  Here’s a picture.

The bat was taken outside and released, whereupon we went to bed, but the coon cats did not, choosing instead to prowl the house, looking for their bat.

Well.

As of this morning, Sleeping with the Enemy: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available in paper from Amazon only.  Here’s your link.

I will be converting the rest of the chapbooks as I have time and energy.  Nothing like a firm schedule, am I right?

As of this writing, in addition to Sleeping. . .  Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23and Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 are also available in digital and paper editions.

And, now, having goofed off much of the morning; it’s time to go to work.

See you on the flip-side.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by — of course! — Meatloaf, “Bat out of Hell.”  Here’s your link.

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Total Solar Eclipse of 1979

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:58 am[syndicated profile] apod_feed

From cold, clear skies over Riverton, Manitoba, Canada, planet Earth, From cold, clear skies over Riverton, Manitoba, Canada, planet Earth,


Posted by Rachel

Here’s a fun post from Chris Winkle at Mythcreants: Seven Ways to Bring Characters Together

You have a character that’s made from oozing lava, and another that’s a rolling snowball. They’ll make a great lava-snow duo, but right now they won’t so much as say hi. Don’t worry, storytellers have many tried-and-true plot devices for bringing characters from different walks of life together. Start by looking through these seven.

Yep, that’s an issue, and for me it can be a biiiig issue. It took a long while to everyone to get together in HOUSE OF SHADOWS, for example. That book may have offered the most separated plot threads I’ve ever had.

Let me see, long does it take the two lead characters to meet each other in WINTER OF ICE AND IRON (pre-orderable now for a mere $7.99)? It seems like forever but in fact they meet for the first time on page . . . let me flip through this copy here . . . page 205, at the beginning of chapter eleven. That’s a hair over a third of the way through the book, and then yes, one of these seven reasons does pressure them into becoming a team.

Oh, the seven ways Winkle mentions are:

1. Alliance of necessity
2. Have one hire the other
3. Start them off as antagonists
4. Give one leverage over the other
5. Make one guard the other
6. Make one investigate the other
7. Lead one to shelter the other

All of those are common, aren’t they? In WINTER, a common enemy provides the biggest push, which makes it a #1 type of situation, though there are aspects of some of the others as well.

It seems we should be able to find three more reasons, though the above are fairly broad and inclusive. Here’s one that’s pretty much missing from the above list, though:

8. They just happen to bump into each other and there is instant chemistry. That’s mostly for romance, and of course romances can use anything off that list, but the just-happen-to-meet thing certainly also happens in romances.

How would you characterize the romance in ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell, where the female lead isn’t aware of the male lead till right at the end, while he is falling in love with her by reading her emails? That’s certainly peculiar and seems like it deserves its own category, though how you would characterize that . . . maybe:

9. Falling in love long distance, with “long distance” meaning via letters, diary entries, and so on. Are there other examples of this besides Rowell’s book? Seems like I’ve got something right on the tip of my tongue.

It would be nice to get to ten. What about:

10. Have one impulsively rescue the other. Is that too similar to (7) above? I think it’s different. Think about Miri rescuing Val Con and vice versa in AGENT OF CHANGE. I’m sure there are other instances of sudden impulsive rescue followed by a partnership.

Of the batch, I’m not keen on (4), especially not if the character holding most of the cards is unlikable.

If the author can pull it off, I’m particularly into (3). Think of Nicholas Valiard and Inspecter Ronsarde in Death of the Necromancer.

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Huge Heyer Sale

Aug. 18th, 2017 02:24 pm[syndicated profile] filkferengi_feed
There's a huge sale on Georgette Heyer novels over on bn.com and amazon. Lots & lots of screens of e-books for 2.99 each.

Squee!

Posted by Rachel

Here is a post by Victor Milan at tor.com: Five Classic Works of SFF by Authors We Must Not Forget

Interestingly, I have read only one of these — Lord of Light by Zelazny. But I do think it’s a shame to stop at five when there are so many. Couldn’t Milan have at least gotten to ten? I figure I’ll help him out by providing a few more, which I’m listing below in the random order in which they occurred to me:

6. The Gaean trilogy by Varley. It’s practically a crime, how little attention Varley gets today. There may be no other author of his era who would better appeal to modern readers.

7. Ringworld by Niven. Niven pretty much founded the era of extraordinary SF settings, and did it better than practically anyone since. Also, Michael Whelan’s vision brought it to life for readers:

8. Dune. Obviously.

9. The Riddle-Master of Hed by McKillip. Hard to believe this was first published so long ago, but so it was. Modern readers are sooooo missing out if they do not grab up this trilogy.

10. The Last Unicorn by Beagle. Again, I’m amazed to find out how old that one is. But everyone still reads it, right? Or do modern readers miss out because they’re so swamped by the recent releases that are getting the current buzz? That would be a shame.

What else should obviously be included on a list of must-read classic or great SFF? If you have a moment, please drop one book published before, say, 1990, in the comments.

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Fantasy or SF?

Aug. 17th, 2017 05:44 pm[syndicated profile] rachel_neumeier_feed

Posted by Rachel

Here’s a fun post, via File 770: Fantasy or Science Fiction: Do You Know Your Stuff?

It is a list. Here, for example, is the section on metals:

iron = fantasy
wrought iron = steam punk
steel = both
stainless steel = SF
damascus steel = historical fantasy
aluminium = SF
gold = fantasy
silver = fantasy
platinum = cyberpunk
chrome = cyberpunk
lead = steam punk
copper = fantasy and steampunk
brass = steampunk
bronze = fantasy
tin = historical romance set in Cornwall
adamantium = high fantasy or superhero

It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? Because it’s moderately true. Though I just dropped a brass clock into a fantasy, it’s kind of a gaslamp fantasy, which is sort of an equivalent of steampunk.

There’s plenty more at the link.

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Books read in 2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:31 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

47. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
46. Just One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor (e)
45. Wildfire, Ilona Andrews (e)
44. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (e) (re-read)
43. The Rose and the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh
42. Blaze of Memory, Nalini Singh (read aloud w/Steve)
41. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
40. Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir, Mark Vonnegut MD (e)
39. The Rule of Luck, Catherine Cerveny (e) (arc)
38. The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
37. The Girl with Ghost Eyes, M.H. Boroson (e)
36. Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
35. White Hot, Ilona Andrews (e)
34.  The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Tom Reiss (e)
33. Mouse and Dragon, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (e)
32. Caszandra, Andrea K. Host (e)
31. Lab Rat One, Andrea K. Host (e)
30. Stray, Andrea K. Host (e)
29. The Cat Who Turned On and Off, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
28. Apprentice in Death, J.D. Robb (e/l)
27. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
26. The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs (e)
25. Hanged for a Sheep, Frances and Richard Lockridge (e)
24. Xamnesia, Lizzie Harwood (e)
23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

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The Power of Purr

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:25 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon



Today, with the exception of needing to go to the doctor for a follow-up exam this afternoon, is a Work Day, and I will be shutting down the internets very soon.



 



I do want to mention, for the people who are here for the cats…the marvelous healing power of purrs.



 



At the ER Monday night, I was given a shot of high-test ibuprofen, and given a muscle-relaxant in pill form to take before I went to bed. In theory, this was to help me sleep through the night.



 



In fact, it helped me sleep for about four hours, when the pain woke me again and I lay in bed counting the hours until CVS opened and I — well, actually, Steve — could go into town and get the prescriptions filled. I twisted and turned and couldn’t find any position that provided relief — for an hour or so by the clock on the ceiling.



 



About 4 am, I decided that, if I started walking, I could be in Waterville when CVS opened, Belle jumped up to the foot of the bed, STOMPED up until she was next to me, sat down and HUFFED. It really was very clearly, “What on earth is the matter with you, stupid kitten?” — and she started to purr.



 



“It won’t work,” I told her. Whereupon she blinked at me, threw herself against my chest (I was laying on my side) and brought up the Big, Deep, Rough purrs from ‘way down at the bottom of the Purr Box. I closed my eyes, still convinced that it wasn’t going to work. . .



 



And woke up at 9 am with my back hurting, but somewhat less.



 



The rest of Tuesday was spent with heating pad on/heating pad off, listening to Pandora and dozing. Trooper took day-shift, with Sprite filling in for necessary breaks. Yesterday, all was very nearly back to normal, though Trooper and Belle still hung close, and today, as previously suggested is a work day.



 



As I type, Belle is in the wooden basket on my desk, and Trooper is sitting next to the keyboard, purring and aiming head-butts at my chin.



 



Everybody have a good day.




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Ursula Vernon, who just won the Best Novelette Hugo, stopped in Iceland en route to WorldCon. She was with her husband Kevin, his cousin, Amy, & their friend Tina. They storified the trip, here:

https://storify.com/RebelsHeart/ursula-vernon-and-friends-vs-iceland

There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.

Perseid by the Sea

Aug. 17th, 2017 05:11 am[syndicated profile] apod_feed

Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand


Epiphanies

Aug. 16th, 2017 06:23 pm[syndicated profile] rachel_neumeier_feed

Posted by Rachel

You should never discount the value of a good ephiphany whapping you between the eyes at an opportune moment, so that suddenly you realize THIS is the main motivation of your important antagonist / THAT is the thread that can tie all the far-flung parts of your story together / THERE is the plot twist you need in order to pull off the climactic scene, and so on.

For those of us who write without a detailed outline, epiphanies of that sort may be particularly important. Generally I just trust that The Answer (or at least a Good Answer) to a pressing character or plot issue will present itself to me in the nick of time, if not before. Why, I clearly remember, because it was not that long ago, figuring out how to actually end the third Black Dog book when I was . . . wait for it . . . 120,000 words into the manuscript.

Generally speaking, these moments of sudden realization are suffused with a sense of inevitability the moment they occur to you. (Or at least to me.) It seems remarkable you didn’t have that exact detail in mind from the beginning, and ideally when you finish your first draft, it will read as though you did.

I bring this up because you never know what might spark such an epiphany, but most recently for me it was this post by Janet Reid, in particular this passage:

[I]f your character doesn’t have to change, move, decide, risk something in the first 50 pages, it’s often a pass from me.

THAT’S IT! I cried, because I had been struggling with chapter three or so of one of my current Works In Progress for ages. (That struggle is one major element that has led to my switching back and forth from one WIP to another all summer long.) I knew it was a problem with passivity or inaction or both, but somehow framing it as The protagonist needs to make a decision by page fifty did the job. I immediately revised chapter three (again, sigh), this time finally putting an important decision into the protagonist’s hands, where it obviously had belonged all alone.

Sometimes it’s something that is just that obvious, and was just that obvious all along, yet somehow you didn’t see it.

I strongly suspect that you can’t get an epiphany of that sort to happen when it would be convenient, ie before you write the dratted chapter in the first place. I think you have to have the problem in the back of your mind for long enough that the solution is ready to crash down on you in an unmissable OF COURSE DUH moment. Then any little thing can bring it down. But for me, first I have to write it wrong before I can do it over right.

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Posted by Rachel

Or do I mean “confitted”? What is the adjective form of this word? The question seems rather unsettled if you just google the various forms.

Either way, this recipe was both good enough and interesting enough that I would like to share it with you all.

I don’t usually take a portion of anything I cook to my parents, because most often it is Indian; Thai; spicy; contains chickpeas, cilantro, or artichokes; or involves combination of these factors, none of which generally appeal to them. (Desserts are different, but alas, these days I don’t make that many desserts except for special occasions.)

But this was excellent, and much to everyone’s taste. Forthwith:

Chicken Confit with Andouille and White Beans.

The original recipe, from Bon Appetit, is here. I did not make this recipe quite according to the directions, but I stuck fairly closely to the original, for me. The recipe might seem like a little too much trouble, but it can be made in stages and the actual work involved is pretty limited, especially in the somewhat less involved version I made. So here we go:

1½ bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, which is, it turns out, four. I almost never buy bone-in chicken, but bought a big package because it was more economical that way. This was good enough I’ll probably use the rest of the chicken thighs to make it again.
Salt, pepper
1 bulb garlic, the outer skin rubbed off, halved (not clove of garlic, bulb).
2 shallots, halved, or if you can’t find them – generally I can but this time I couldn’t – one small onion, skinned and quartered.
4 sprigs thyme, or say half a tsp or so dried.
2 bay leaves
4 juniper berries, which I’m sure aren’t crucial but I happened to have some.
1 C olive oil, and you have probably heard that lots of so-called olive oil is adulterated with cheaper oils, so you may want to check online for unadulterated brands, which is what I do every time I buy olive oil because I never remember that sort of thing.

Then later you will need:
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ of a 14.5-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed. I don’t know why you couldn’t use the whole can and next time I will, as the tomatoes were hardly overpowering in the final dish.
4 C cooked large white beans, from 1½ C dried, plus 1 C of the cooking liquid, but I will add that since I’m not a purist when it comes to beans, I actually used two 15.5-oz cans of cannellini beans. They were delicious. Three cans would probably not be too much.
2 andouille sausages, or since the ones I got came four to a package, I just used all four.
1 thick slice sourdough bread, in crumbs, tossed in oil, for a garnish (I skipped this step).

You can confit the chicken one day and then hold it for two or three days before you finish the dish, which is why it really is not that much trouble.

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Try not to forget that step as I forgot it and then found the chicken slightly underseasoned at the end. Place in a small Dutch oven. I didn’t know there was any such thing as a small Dutch oven. I certainly don’t have such an item. I used a saucier that was just barely large enough to hold all four chicken thighs in a single layer. Add the garlic, shallots or onion, thyme, bay leaves, and juniper berries. Pour the olive oil over everything and bring to a bare simmer on the stovetop. Then put the pan in the oven, covered, and bake at 225º for 2½ hours. That is 225º, not a typo. I turned the chicken thighs over once, but it didn’t say to. So far, as you can see, the active preparation time is really minimal. You are supposed to cool the chicken overnight in the oil. I poured everything into a biggish Tupperware container and stuck it in the fridge for three days, until I was ready to go on.

Now, when you’re ready to proceed, scoop about 1/3 C of the fat off the top of the container and put that in a pan. I am much too lazy to bother measuring it; I just spooned a generous amount into the pan. Heat this fat over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for ten minutes or so. Squeeze the confitted garlic cloves out of their skins into the pan. Add the tomatoes and cook five minutes. Add the beans – since the recipe called for a cup of the cooking liquid, I didn’t drain the cannellini before I added them. Add the broth from the confit (the broth, not the rest of the fat, which you can reserve for frying eggs or something). Bring everything to a simmer, pour into a 9 x 13” baking pan, and nestle the confitted chicken thighs into the beans. Arrange the andouille sausages around and between the chicken thighs, wherever they fit. Bake uncovered at 350º for two hours. Yes, two hours. I rotated the pan back-to-front halfway through, which you should probably do unless your oven bakes more evenly than mine. You can finish up by topping the whole thing with the crumbs and baking another twenty minutes if that suits you, but I left out that step. The active prep time for this step was maybe twenty minutes.

The skin on top of the chicken thighs crisped up beautifully. (Of course the skin on the bottoms of the thighs did not, but if you have a lot of dogs hanging around hoping for a share, that problem takes care of itself.) The sausages also crisped up, and the beans held their shape but were wonderfully soft and creamy, and basically the whole thing was *really good.* This is definitely a dish you could make for a special occasion. If you do try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did.

I feel I should add that the baking dish did get quite a baked-on crust around the edges. I took it outside to the big sink where, in the summer, I bathe the dogs. I set the dish in that sink, filled it up with hot water, and left it overnight. It will no doubt occur to you all that it would be more practical to line the baking dish with aluminum foil and just throw the foil away. That will make the clean-up as easy as the preparation. Next time I’ll remember about the foil.

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