I very anxiously awaited Hollow City, the follow up to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I adored the first in this series, so when I realized the second had come out, I was all over it like Sriracha on my everything. I was not disappointed. Riggs writes a compelling sequel that toes the line between young adult and “playful adult-adult”, which I have decided needs to be a new category of literature.
I don’t want to go into the plot too much because there are so many exciting twists and turns. It is the type of book I’d read thinking, “Five more pages and I’ll go to bed” and then something amazing would happen and I’d put off bedtime again. The book follows the journey through space and time that the peculiarly gifted children take in their efforts to restore Miss Peregrine from her bird body to her human one. You will learn more details about the alternate universe of the peculiars, who, in addition to their peculiar skills, can travel through time loops. I think Riggs’ alternate world is fascinating. You will find yourself questioning, among other things, the nature of time, human souls, and familial ties. It will behoove you to read the first book to understand fully what is going on. This could be the next Lord of the Rings. Although Peter Jackson will have to wrest the director’s reins away from Tim Burton, who is set to direct the movie.
Without giving too much away, I will say the theme of family looms large. Our hero Jacob is incredibly torn between the family he left and his new adopted family of peculiars and their caretaker Miss Peregrine. By choosing the peculiars he is carrying on what his grandfather passed to him, but he is forsaking his poor non-peculiar parents who don’t know what happened to him. He fits in with peculiars but wonders if, like his grandfather did before him, he should get back to the “real world”. It is sort of how I feel here in Hollywood with the improv community. I jive with the weirdos, but maybe I should get an adult job that doesn’t involve playing pretend? Nah.
Of course, the world of the peculiars is also tempting to him because Jacob is in love with Emma, a firecracker of a peculiar with similarly flammable hands. She can generate fire and heat at will. It’s a mighty good skill to have if you are on the run from monsters like Miss Peregrine and the children. Besides her ability to literally keep him warm at night, I see why Jacob loves Emma. I have a huge girl-crush on her. She is just a kick-ass female. She is strong, and authoritative ends “every sentence with a declarative period, not a question mark”. I bet she’d never start a sentence with “I feel like”, which is a habit I feel like has been an epidemic of late.
Monsters, love and a wicked awesome female role model,.. what more do you want? Oh, yes, a snack to go with. This one was a challenge. Throughout most of the book, the peculiars are starving and on the run. Most of the descriptions of what they ate are unappetizing. They subsist on food foraged here and there and cooked on the run. However, there is one meal they eat that is described as delightful. Peculiarly enough, it is served to them by a bunch of peculiar talking animals with unusual skills – like the chickens who lay eggs that explode. Addison, a very sophisticated dog, is their leader. He’d get along well with Family Guy’s Brian, to give you an idea of what he’s like. The menagerie feeds the peculiar children “baskets of fresh bread and stewed apples and hard-boiled eggs-of the nonexploding variety”. I decided to make hard-boiled eggs that were peculiar, but not in the exploding way.
I pickled them! I’ve been getting into pickling recently. If you are making them to consume soon, pickles can be quite easy to make. I wanted to make mine pretty to look at so I made a variety I found in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman that calls for sundried tomato. The tomatoes dye the eggs a deep reddish hue. Going with the red theme, I served them over a bed of beet greens I had sautéed with some garlic. There is no real recipe for that, go with your gut. Beet greens are the under appreciated green. They taste good too. Nothing peculiar about that. Now, don’t get in a pickle! Just go make these.
Pretty Peculiar Pickled Eggs adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and cloves gently crushed (like your heart after a break-up you knew was coming)
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
- sautéed beet greens, to serve
If you are not sure how to hard-boil eggs, let me tell you that everyone has their favorite way and will say it is the only way. But my way is the correct one. Know that. I put the eggs in a large pot and cover them with water, then put the pot on the stove and jack the heat up. As soon as the water boils, I take the pot off the stove and let it sit for about ten minutes. If you want a very, very soft yolk you can take that down to 8 or 9. For a harder yolk go for 11-12, but I find the yolk gets too dry at this point. After the 10-ish minutes put the pot, hot water, eggs and all in the sink and run cool water over it. Eventually the water in the pot will be cold. Take the eggs out. Dry and refrigerate. The key to peeling is to start peeling them where the air bubble is, which is usually on one of the long ends of the egg.
Now that you have your eggs, place them in a nice big, clean jar. You may need a couple of jars depending on how big yours is. I used an old pickle jar. Appropriate. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat until they are simmering and simmer about ten minutes. Pour that over the eggs and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and putting in the refrigerator. Let them pickle about two days, then cook up your greens and dig in.