“the most sensual, delicious dessert”

In her aphrodisiac cookbook Aphrodite, Isabel Allende calls her variation on the traditional arroz con leche “the most sensual, delicious dessert.” Should you be in a good mood,” she tells us, “you can cover your lover from head to foot in this mouthwatering arroz con leche and slowly lick it off.”

It would be presumptuous of me to claim the same aphrodisiac effects for my own recipe, particularly since this is the first time I made it, and I happened to be sleeping alone last night. Who knows, though, what’ll happen when I have it with someone.

I was, however, feeling adventurous even before making it, so I tweaked my family’s standard recipe slightly.

Serves 2 or 3 (but actually 2 or maybe even 1 because you’re going to want to have it all.)

1 part rice
3 parts milk (I used 2 parts coconut almond milk and 1 part 2% milk)
1/4 cup sugar
1 clementine
dash of vanilla extract
a teaspoon of Lady Grey (lavender Earl Grey, for those of you who don’t drink 4 cups of it before breakfast)


Peel and quarter the clementine, and add the rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to your rice cooker. Stir, making sure the sugar is dissolved and the cinnamon hasn’t clumped. Add the clementine. Add a teaspoon of Lady Grey in a bouquet garni, if you don’t want it to color your rice as much as it did mine, and turn on the rice cooker.

All the ingredients in the rice cooker

All the ingredients in the rice cooker

If you’re planning on taking out the tea before the rice is done, wait till the milk is boiling, if not, lavender flowers steeped in sugar and milk are surprisingly tasty.

You can practically smell the lavender!

You can practically smell the lavender!

I skimmed off most of the tea right before the end of the rice cooker’s cycle, but left a little in––it’ll rise to the top and you can skim it off then.

Serve in bowls, and splash a little milk in each bowl after serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

This turned out to be delicious, even though, as Allende would lament, I had no one to slather it on.

Voilà, c'est cuit.

Et voilà, c’est cuit. But I didn’t slather it on anyone because it was too good.

Note: you could experiment with other teas / milks and I’m sure it would be just as good. If I had had any peach, or mango Ceylon, I definitely would have used one of those.

Greek Yoghurt-marinated Chicken Breasts over Lemon Cous Cous

I’m leaving Southampton to go back to Ohio for Spring Break at the end of this week, which means that I need to try to use up as much of the perishable produce etc. in my fridge. With that in mind, I started browsing some recipes this morning but nothing was really catching my eye. So, I figured, since I’m three-eighths into my Master’s of Fine Arts and I’m working on poetic food porn as my MFA thesis, and I recently got my first assignment as a writer for Edible East End, I could just make it up as I go. From the start, I knew that the recipe would have a Mediterranean feel to it, because I had Greek yoghurt and fresh mint to spare from a recipe in Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite, a cookbook of aphrodisiac recipes that I’d planned on making last week but didn’t. For a good marinade, you need some sort of acidic substance (vinegar, wine, lemon juice) and the rest depends on your actual recipe. I, however, had no recipe. So I started out making a yoghurt marinade I often use for salmon (yoghurt, lime juice, pepper)  but decided that I’d go out on a limb and Greek things up a little. (Because I’ve been away from Greek things for too long, after Honeyvoiced.) I had chicken breasts on hand, so I used those, but I think it would be equally as good with lamb or beef. I plated the chicken with lemon cous cous and drank sweet mint tea with the meal.

I tried taking a picture but my phone wasn’t cooperating and I was hungry, so I’ll snap one next time I make this.
Oh, and also, I didn’t measure a lot of things, so these are reconstructions (which I hope sounds more refined than guesstimates)
Serves 2


1 1/4 cup greek yoghurt
lemon juice, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
a pinch cumin seeds
half a tablespoon crushed red pepper
a teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of dried basil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-sized pieces.
fresh mint
preheat the oven to 425º

mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in an oven-safe container and toss in the chicken. Top with mint leaves and let sit for an hour.

I set the oven timer for an hour and made cous cous in my rice cooker, using the usual proportions for rice. 1 part cous cous : 1 and a half parts water because if there’s something you can’t make in a rice cooker, I’m not sure it’s worth making.  I flirted with using chicken broth instead of water, but then realized it’d be better not to in this case because I didn’t want to overpower the actual chicken. A pinch of sea salt, and the juice of the half-lemon I had left over later, and I put the lid on, and flicked the switch. When the hour was up, I slid the chicken (covered with foil) into the oven, set the oven timer for 25 minutes and went back to my living room to read while pretending that I could see the Temple of Apollo from my window and not 8 inches of snow.



Maybe it’s bad form to admit this, as a hopeful poet, but my second professional appearance as a poet will be at Kenyon, and I haven’t been able to sleep because of that for the last three nights. There’s a reason I’m writing this at 5 in the morning. My first appearance is on January 16 at Cincinnati Country Day School, where I’ll be reading from Honeyvoiced and leading a generative poetry workshop––thank you, Julie Sheehan, for your Teaching Practicum last semester.

I can say nothing but good things about Kenyon, and I feel, theoretically, nothing but wonderful things about reading there on the 21st. In practice though, I’m having a hard time mustering up enough chutzpah to pretend like reading fragments there officially is just as easy as reading at an open mic in the Horn Gallery on a rainy October evening for KR’s 2013 Harvest Festival. I’ve read fragments there at Gund Commons on November 14 and 15 (again 2013) for a friend’s comps which was, undoubtedly the defining moment for Honeyvoiced as a manuscript, since it got me more than I could ever ask for. That was slightly more momentous, but I got through it just fine. Yet, thinking about reading at the Kenyon Bookstore, where I spent most of my time and money from 2010 to 2014, where I met such amazing people as Josh Radnor (that one time we ran into each other at the poetry section and I was reaching for a copy of Byron over his head and had no idea who he was till afterwards) and Dan Poppick, is freaking me right the hell out. Why? I have no idea. I couldn’t ask for a better venue, I know it better than I do my own house––a better, more knowledgeable, or friendlier bookseller, or a better audience on that Wednesday night: everyone who shows up will either have taught me, have had a class with me, know me, have scrambled to order from the Cove at 1:59 in the morning with me while we were so drunk that the lack of buttons on our phones would have been more of a detriment to our craving for mac and cheese wedges if speed-dial, or two magical words Call Cove and voice recognition hadn’t existed, or knows someone who did. This will be an audience made up of people whom I love, of friends, poets, and artists. They’ll be a who’s who of all (but two) of the dedications sprinkled throughout Honeyvoiced.  One of my favorite poets will sit alongside someone with whom I spent a good third of Sendoff figuring out the order for the fragments, and who said one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard: there are some people you love that you give flowers to, and other people you love that you drink wine with. She, I think, happens to be both.

A warmer welcome can’t be hoped for anywhere, and I’m still freaking out about it. Honeyvoiced, for all its Ancient Greek dress, is a book about Kenyon. It was conceived here, written here, dedicated to muses who go here; it was recited here, and published here, and I’m glad I’m reading it here. But it’s 5:30 in the morning on a Monday––the first day of Spring semester at Kenyon, and there’s so much anxiety-based adrenaline running through me, that I can’t go to sleep.

And my next reading at Southampton in March? It’s going to be more of this unbelievable cocktail that is two parts gratitude and love and one part anxiety.