Friday, October 13, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Rachel Rawlings, Author of The Morrigna



Welcome to Salem, MA. Home of Maurin Kincaide, psychometric and all-around representative of the paranormal community; whether she wants to be or not. Restaurants in town offer the usual pub fare, unless you’ve accidentally wandered into Toil and Trouble. If so, whether or not the Blood Sausage is fresh is the least of your worries; because this local haunt isn’t on the tour.

You’ve heard of Starbuck’s secret menu? The ol’ double T has one of those too. Wine lists range from Merlot to O; positive or negative that is and the steak is served rare. There’s the occasional elixir and farm to table is more like herb garden to table. So far, the norms have remained blissfully unaware.

Maurin’s been known to solve more than one problem after a few lemon drop shooters artfully crafted by Toil and Troubles bartender, Mike. But her favorite brew isn’t from a cauldron or the local micro-brewery.

A witch may be the purveyor, but even the squarest of norms can feel magic in these beans. Daily Grind, home of Salem’s best Dirty Chai latte, has earned the Maurin seal of approval. Much like me, she has a love affair with coffee. In any form, hot, cold or beans covered in chocolate served from a candy dispenser, Maurin hasn’t met a coffee she hasn’t liked. And that includes the sludge they try to pass as coffee at Salem’s Preternatural Task Force.

While her tastes have progressed from coffee lighter than her porcelain complexion to a cup so strong and dark a spoon could stand up straight in the mug, Maurin’s go to comfort drink is usually a Dirty Chai. Part espresso, part Chai tea, this nectar of the Gods is combined with steamed milk to create the perfect Autumn drink.

Not convinced? Try this simple recipe at home. Or, order one off Starbuck’s secret menu.

Brew chai tea bag in boiling water. Remove tea bag.
Pour coffee over tea.
Put milk in a mason jar or plastic container with lid. Shake until frothy.
Remove lid and microwave for 30 seconds.
Top with a dash of cinnamon. Sweeten with sugar if desired.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Rachel!



You can find Rachel here:




Thursday, October 5, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Patricia Sands, Author of Drawing Lessons



Heartbreak is never easy. Arianna Papadopoulos-Miller arrives, from Toronto, in the Alpilles area of the south of France on a quest to rediscover the artist she once was and move forward with her life.

She is welcomed on the terrace of the 200-year-old mas (farmhouse) where she will spend two weeks with 7 other artists. From that moment, gastronomy becomes a feature of her stay. But, hey … alors … it’s France!



Foie gras on toasted rounds of baguette and local olives accompany the chilled champagne, poured in slender hand-blown glass flutes. A toast is made to the beginning of an exciting two weeks of drawing and painting … and other unimagined experiences.

And so it begins.

“La grande charcuterie!” Maurice announced as three large slabs of olivewood were proudly presented by the kitchen staff. Each bore a colorful display of meats.

Maurice gave a guided tour of each artistically arranged platter. “We have thinly sliced prosciutto as well as jambon cru . . . local uncured ham that will melt in your mouth. Here we have our very special saucisson d’Arles, native to our area in particular. It’s a dry sausage that used to be made a century ago from—don’t gasp, please—donkey meat.”

In spite of themselves, there was a slight gasp.

“It is nowadays made of beef and pork fat with some garlic and black pepper. Magnifique! Only certain local charcutiers make it—c’est authentique! And finally, there are grilled lamb chops, seasoned to perfection. We are famous for lamb in Provence. You will see why!”
His hand moved on to the end of the platter, and his level of enthuthsiasm increased even more. “Pâté maison, la recette de mon arrière-grand- mère! Very smooth. It’s made with chicken livers, lemon, onion, and herbs de Provence. Plus”—with this, he raised his fingers to his lips, as if sharing a secret—“what makes hers special is . . . a touch of fromage de Neufchâtel.”

He nodded conspiratorially, the gleam in his eye never fading as he continued. “And also her even more famous pâté en croute. It’s a coarse and rich terrine of mixed ground meats with peppercorns and pistachios. After being cooked in aspic, it is wrapped in a rich, buttery crust, coated inside with lard. C’est vraiment extraordinaire!”

“And ever so fattening!” Bertram interjected.

Maurice responded with humor. “Don’t even think about calories or cholesterol when you eat in France. Simply enjoy! A little bit never hurt anyone! Even too much on certain days never hurt anyone. We only live once!”

“Can you tell my husband is a true ‘foodie’?” Juliette interjected with a grin.

Maurice bowed with an extravagant flourish as applause reverberated around the table. “Champagne goes very well with this meal, if you care to continue, or we have a fine Châteauneuf-du-Pape red—and, of course, always there is beer for those who prefer.”

After he slipped his arm around Juliette’s waist, they wished everyone in unison, “Bon appétit!”

During the meal, Maurice answered questions about the difference between a boucher, a butcher who sells raw meat, and a true charcutier, someone who prepares the foods they were eating.

“Of course,” he explained, “you will discover we can thank the Ancient Romans for many of our traditions.”

And that was just the beginning … from breakfasts of warm, buttery croissant, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins, farm fresh eggs and fruit straight from the orchard through exquisite multi-course meals (or sometimes simple but delicious baguette sandwiches) ... and then there is a simple green salad followed by cheese. Lots of cheese choices! The grand finale consists of luscious desserts of crème brulée, profiteroles, crêpes, gateaux, tarte tatin, tarte au citron … Are you full yet? You may think I’m exaggerating, mais non! And somehow over there, it all works as hours are spent savouring and appreciating each morsel. Bon appétit!



Along with the food, Drawing Lessons is a story about friendship, art, discovery and hope … set amidst the beauty of Arles and the unique Camargue, in the Bouches-du-Rhône area of the south of France.



Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Patricia!




You can find Patricia here:




Friday, September 29, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Caroline Clemmons, Author of The Texan's Irish Bride



Thank you, Shelley, for inviting me to your fun blog. One of the things all characters (as well as readers and writers) do is eat. Usually, authors don’t dwell on the food served. In his or her head, though, the writer knows all the delicious recipes that will be prepared.

In my book The Texan's Irish Bride, Dallas McClintock hosts a huge party for his family and friends and for the wedding of his brother-in-law and one of the Traveler lasses. This group includes the McClintock family and that of his bride, Cenora O’Neill McClintock.

Dallas prepares his secret chili recipe for the party. Yes, he keeps it a secret but—shhhh—I’ll share it with you.* Now that the weather is cooling in most areas, chili is a welcome meal on a cold night. (I love it year round.) It’s easy to prepare in large batches for a party. If there’s any left over, chili freezes well for a quick meal later.

Chili is a favorite for entertaining at our house. I provide dishes of tortilla chips, grated cheese, minced spring onions, pinto beans, cornbread muffins, butter, and honey as well as serving potato salad and other chilled salads. In my opinion, chili is a traditional Southwest food that has gained popularity throughout the United States.

When I wrote The Texan's Irish Bride, book 1 of the McClintock series, I did a lot of research. After its release, many readers asked for a book about Finn O’Neill, older brother of Cenora. Once again, I dug into research for book 2, Finn's Texas Bride. Book 3, McClintock's Reluctant Bride, didn’t require as much research. In November, I’ll release the fourth book in this series, Daniel. This book has me immersed in research to be as factual as possible in Daniel’s treatment. I hope you’ll read and enjoy this entire series (and my other series, too). To get you started, The Texan's Irish Bride is free (links below).


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Caroline!



Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won several awards.



You can find Caroline here:






*          *          *          *          *           *          *          *          *          *          *

*Dallas McClintock’s Fandango Chili con Carne
[usually shortened to Chili]
From The Texan's Irish Bride  By Caroline Clemmons

5 lbs. Chili meat or ground beef, or combination of 4lbs. Beef or Venison and 1 lb. Pork sausage (I use only beef in a combination of 2 lbs. chili meat and 3 lbs. ground beef)
1 15 0z. Tomato sauce
1 can Stewed tomatoes
3 Tspn Chili powder [adjust to taste]
1 tspn. Ground comino [cumin]
1 tspn. Cayenne
1 tspn. Salt
1 tspn. Pepper
1 tspn. Paprika
I medium Onion, finely chopped
3-5 Garlic cloves, minced [or garlic salt].
¼ cup Brown sugar (Dallas’ secret ingredient)

Sear meat in a large skillet, pouring off the excess grease as the meat cooks. As meat nears browning, add onions and garlic to let them brown also. Mix the remainder of the ingredients except brown sugar with the meat in a large heavy kettle or dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then quickly reduce the heat to simmer. Stir frequently. Adjust seasonings to taste as chili cooks.

As the chili simmers slowly, more fat will reduce out and float to the surface. Skim off this fat each time before you stir the chili.  Discard the fat. About fifteen or twenty minutes before serving, add brown sugar and stir. This chili can be cooked in an hour, but the flavor is best if simmered very slowly for two or three hours, stirring every thirty minutes.

Serve with cornbread or tortillas and pinto beans. Texans don’t add beans to the chili con carne while it’s cooking.

Friday, September 22, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jenn Brink, Author of Silver Bells



Demoralized from her latest titanic failure, Jessica is back under her parent’s roof in Silver Bells the stand-alone third novel in the Jessica Hart series.  Our heroine isn’t the kind of girl who doesn’t eat.  She uses food as her security blanket in this comedic New Adult mystery series.
 
With the bedroom that she never completely moved out of and family gossip driving her straight into the arms of the mashed potatoes, Jessica needs an out (either that or a larger pants size).  Why, oh why, does it have to be the holidays?!  Can’t a girl enjoy a massive breakup and life crisis during bikini season?

Worried about the amount of pumpkin pie going straight to her hips, Jessica takes off with side-kick Barbie on a mission (okay it’s not their mission but… details) to save Christmas.  There isn’t enough comfort food to keep Jessica’s emotions in check as she teams up with the yummy hunk of muscles who won’t quit haunting her daydreams.
 
The list of missing persons keeps growing as Jessica searches for clues and dinner, while struggling to suppress her desires.  When the bullets start flying, there’s no time to stop and eat (I mean understand her feelings).  Jessica is hoping for a miracle, but did someone order pizza?
 

Keep the hot chocolate flowing and don’t skimp on the booze, not if you fear the sobered up wrath of Barbie, as these cousins search from the North Pole to the Caribbean for Jolly Ole Saint Nick and a new life-plan.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Jenn!



You can visit Jenn here:




Friday, September 8, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dina Santorelli, Author of Baby Grand



Mob storylines usually involve a smorgasbord of Italian food—pasta, sauce, bread, lots of bread, and all kinds of pastries. In my mind’s eye, when I think of books and movies about organized crime, I picture bulky, menacing-looking guys stirring big pots of sauce and probably the most memorable line from The Godfather: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

In Baby Grand, the first book in my thriller trilogy, a bunch of mob guys are living temporarily in the home of a man named Don Bailino, who has just orchestrated the kidnapping of the baby daughter of New York Governor Phillip Grand. Bailino has also abducted a down-and-out writer named Jamie Carter whom he then forces to care for the child while he and the others work to delay the execution of mobster Gino Cataldi, who is on death row.

Rather than have the usual smells of tomato sauce, basil, and oregano permeate Bailino’s home or have the mobsters hang out in front of a pork store, a la The Sopranos, or make frequent visits to a local Italian bakery, I keep the food spare—and, overall, quite healthy. Cheerios (for the baby, perhaps). Apples. Grapes.

The reason? Don Bailino isn’t your everyday mobster.

In one scene, he bakes brownies—carefully using a knife to coat the top of a brownie with frosting, an image that makes him seem more like Martha Stewart than a mob guy. I did this to depict the complexity of Bailino, a guy who uses knives to kill but also to bake. A guy who can be as sweet as he is ruthless. A man who is meticulous about his work, be it in the kitchen or in a back alley.

Bailino eventually presents those brownies to Jamie Carter who is upstairs in his bedroom. What will Jamie do? And where is the baby?

I could tell you what happens next, but I’d have to kill you.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Dina!



You can find Dina here:





Thursday, August 17, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jack Scott, Author of Perking the Pansies



Turkish cuisine is justifiably famed as one of the world’s greatest. The Sultan’s table overflowed with extravagant bounty from the vast Ottoman domains that once stretched across three continents. The empire may be history, but food – preparing it, eating it, sharing it – is still of enormous cultural importance to all Turks regardless of status and income. So it’s small wonder the simple act of eating plays a starring role in both of my memoirs, Perking the Pansies and its sequel, Turkey Street. Here’s a soupçon…


Mini dishes of Turkish tasters flew out from Beril’s kitchen as she launched her mission to spice up our bland English palates, something she approached with the unrestrained fervour of a TV evangelist. Like her parents before her, Beril had never ventured into Europe beyond the city limits of old Istanbul but had heard terrible tales about British cuisine, a culinary travesty, all fish ‘n’ chips, pork scratchings, over-boiled carrots, scurvy and mad cow disease.

‘Eat!’ she would scream, sliding another exotic sample onto our table. ‘Is good. Eat!’

We would comply like scolded children, tucking into her braised artichoke hearts, garlic-roasted aubergines, sautéed spinach or white bean goo, salivating even before the first mouthful.

‘Süper!’ we would shout over to Beril as she puffed on a Black Russian Sobranie, looking on and waiting for every last scrap to be devoured. ‘Le-zz-et-li! De-li-cious!’



When our new next-door neighbours moved in, Liam and I were on edge. What if they were a couple of old stick-in-the-muds rolling out the prayer mats? After all, we were an unabashed gay couple living in a Muslim land, something as rare as ginger imams. We were mightily relieved to be greeted by Beril and Vadim, an unconventional couple from Ankara. He was a retired percussionist, she a fiery brunette half his height and half his age. And they were living in sin which made them just as damned as us. Their English was dreadful and our mastery of the language of the sultans was close to tragic. Despite the language barrier, over time Beril and I developed a sweet affinity. With Liam often back in London on family duty and, likewise, Vadim in Ankara, Beril kept my pecker up with freshly-baked treats from her kitchen. We ate, we smoked, we drank and we laughed. And when Beril felt totally at ease, she shared the secret about her older brother.

Our all too brief time in Turkey was a kaleidoscope for the senses – so many extraordinary sights, unexpected events and vivid characters like Beril. I just had to put pen to paper, first in a blog, then in the memoirs. Turkey made a writer of me. Who’d have thought? Certainly not me.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Jack!



You can find Jack here:





Thursday, August 10, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Deborah Shilan & Linda Reid, Authors of Dead Air



Dead Air, Vibrant Cuisine!

What’s the #1 College Team in New England?  The delivery crew from Luigi’s Pizza, of course.  Luigi’s is Ellsford University’s championship greasy spoon, where fraternity men and sorority sisters rub shoulders with bespectacled graduate students, exhausted medical students, and varsity athletes.  The hangout is a treasure trove for campus radio talk show host cum investigative reporter Sammy Greene, whose alert ears pick up on local gossip for her show as Ellsford students chow down on tsunamis of mozzarella, pepperoni, bacon and sausage.  Daring rebels order pineapple on their pies, but, to the relief of all, there is nary a vegetable in sight.  Despite tasty toppings, something is rotten in the State of Vermont.  In Dead Air, Ellsford University students and faculty are disappearing or dying, and it’s Sammy to the rescue with a variety of suspects stirring the pot at the Ivy League school.
 
Soon after Professor Barton Conrad buzzes his alarm, his goose is cooked; and it’s Sammy and her on-and-off boyfriend, medical student Reed Wyndham sniffing out suspects.  Sammy and Reed are feeling the heat from corrupt coaches, aggressive sports stars, animal rights protesters, and crusty campus cop, Gus Pappajohn, whose sinecure has turned into a forum for activism and ecoterrorism directed at the college’s new multimillion-dollar Nitshi Research Institute which funds the pharmaceutical research of Reed’s mentor, Dr. Marcus Palmer.  Even Gus’ love for tasty pastitsio can’t stop the churning in his stomach as the body count mounts.

Sammy’s nose for news takes her to her childhood haunts in New York City, where she was raised after her mother’s suicide by her Bubbe Rose.  She’s ripe for rescue by Sergeant Gus, who provides tasty respite at a church Greek Festival near his sister’s home in Boston as they drive home to Vermont.  At the Fair, Sammy gets to sample the home-cooking flavors of eggplant soufflé Moussaka, flaky filo-wrapped Spanakopitas, sizzling beef and chicken Souvlaki, and cheesy Tiropites.  Just like (Greek) Mom’s.  Energized by her Mediterranean dietary excursion, Sammy is back on the trail—providing readers a delicious recipe of mystery, murder, thrills, and chills, as she uncovers the charred underside of her higher education home.

Enjoy great Mediterranean dishes as you share Sammy’s culinary and sleuthing adventures in Dead Air! 


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Deborah and Linda!




You can find the authors here:








Friday, August 4, 2017

FOODFIC: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs



Riggs isn’t kidding – the children* certainly are peculiar.

Emma can make fire with her hands.

Millard is invisible.

Hugh has bees living in his stomach.

There’s also Olive, the levitating girl, and Claire, who is a backmouth. (I’ll let you read the book to discover what that is on your own.)

And it’s not just the children who have “gifts;” their headmistress Miss Peregrine can in fact morph into a bird at will!

So it stands to reason that the food this strange cast partakes in must also be “special,” right?

Not so much.

Newcomer Jacob joins them for a dinner consisting of: a roasted goose, its flesh a perfect golden brown; a whole salmon and a whole cod, each outfitted with lemons and fresh dill and pats of melting butter; a bowl of steamed mussels; platters of roasted vegetables; loaves of bread still cooling from the oven; and all manner of jellies and sauces [he] didn’t recognize.

Okay, maybe that’s not a typical American dinner, but Jacob has come a very long way - to a remote island off the coast of Wales - to find these peculiars from his grandfather’s stories, so you have to take regional culture into account. More interesting still - it’s not only great distance he has covered, but also time. Again, you’re on your own to discover in which era this meal would most likely be served…and if Jacob will make it back.



*Or syndrigast, to use the venerable language of [the] ancestors. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Juli D. Revezzo, Author of House of Dark Envy



In  my latest novel, House of Dark Envy, my heroine Sarahjane is a young painter so when she has a chance to study with a painting master, she jumps at the chance.

She is surprised to learn, however, that though she stays in the master’s house, she’s also left with the run of it, while he goes off gallivanting around town. For a young lady in the 19th century, this was  a strange things she deals with, mostly young ladies were followed around by mothers and chaperones and not allowed such freedom. Running of the house of course means dinners so she pretty much does what she wants in terms of meals, as far as the markets allowed. This was, of course, before you could run off to the store to buy any ole thing, regardless of whether it was in season or not.

Aside from her meals, she drinks a lot of tea. For most people, tea is the first thing they think of, when they think of Victorian Britain, and Sarahjane’s daily repast was no different. Though she never frequents a tea room, at least during her educational stay in York, she does consume the popular drink with a few little dainty sandwiches or cakes, if she’s hungry enough!

It’s an interesting tradition and one that many partake of today, even in the United States. My grandmother used to have her tea every day like clockwork, and I can say I myself have gone to a high tea.

Okay, okay, I wasn’t all decked out in Victorian finery but it happened! I have the pictures to prove it. :) In looking into what-all else she might have, the Britons ate differently than we Americans. There’s sausage and ham—and tomatoes, of all things, to comprise their breakfasts. Which sounds a lot more like lunch to me. More often than not, I can see her just having a biscuit and a bit of tea. Something she can eat with one hand, while painting with the other. :)



Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Juli!




You can find Juli here:








Synopsis of House of Dark Envy:

Surely, lightning can’t strike twice...

1888: When Sarahjane attends Lady Morville’s costume party, she never expects to learn her old beau Felix Gryffith is under the illustrious woman’s patronage and stands on the cusp of making a world-changing discovery. Felix, whose lies disgraced her in the eyes of the London elite by labeling her a flirt.

Felix’s love for Sarahjane has never wavered, despite the scandal that forced them apart. He’s desperate to tell her the truth, if he can convince her to listen.

Fate lurked in the shadows that night, years ago. Has it returned to grant Sarahjane and Felix their wishes, or terrorize them?



Works cited:
Articles about English breakfasts:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/21/how-to-make-full-english-breakfast

Friday, July 21, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cory Putman Oakes, Author of WITCHTOWN



There are few things I take more seriously than books and food. Put those two things together and I really go nuts. When I was writing my young adult novel, WITCHTOWN, a lot of my writing research revolved around food.

WITCHTOWN is a story about a sixteen year old girl named Macie and her mother who travel between witch-only towns (called havens) robbing people. They must ingratiate themselves with the folks at each new haven they arrive at, and one of their methods of doing this is trying to assert their spiritual superiority by maintaining a raw vegan diet.

I decided to try raw veganism for myself so I could write about it more realistically. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was thirteen so I figured it would be no big deal – I figured wrong! The idea behind raw veganism is that you eat no animal-derived products at all, and no food that has been heated above 104 degrees. Unlike vegetarianism, which is really just about substituting different protein sources into your diet, raw veganism requires a completely different approach to shopping, preparing, and eating food. I committed to the diet for one full week. You can follow the whole story over on my blog (Starting here on DAY 0: http://www.corypoakes.com/news-and-events/in-the-name-of-writing-research-my-raw-vegan-adventure/) but the highlights included: rampant cheese cravings, raw “lasagna,” a new appreciation for raw vegan desserts, raw vegan date night with my (carnivorous) husband, and victory pizza at midnight on Day #7.

To make things more interesting for my raw vegan main character, I had her develop a friendship with Gayle, the Witchtown baker. To make Gayle (and her bakery) as real as possible, I spoke at length with a wonderful pagan food blogger (http://recipesforapagansoul.weebly.com) who helped me to come up with all sorts of delightful (NOT raw vegan) baked goods to torture Macie with – including Gayle’s signature scones. (The recipe is on my website: http://www.corypoakes.com/books/witchtown/recipe-gayles-lemony-thyme-scones/) They are lemony, herby, and totally perfect for the Summer Solstice (or whatever special occasion you happen to be celebrating). I make them all the time!

I also really got into pagan holiday recipes. I’m most proud of my Summer Solstice cakes and pies (they’ve become an annual tradition in my house). But I also love the mini pumpkin pies I made for Autumn Equinox one year, and the wassail and Yule Log cake I did for Winter Solstice.

In short, the research for WITCHTOWN was as fun as it was delicious and it’s left me with family traditions and recipes that we’ll continue to enjoy for years to come – as well as a book I’m really proud of. I hope you enjoy reading about the food in WITCHTOWN just as much as I enjoyed writing about it!


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Cory!



You can find Cory here: