Thursday, September 30, 2010

Food and Fiction: What's food got to do with it? Searching for a Starry Night and the Killer Valentine Ball

I'm not sure if it's a matter of writing when hungry, (like shopping when hungry? Don't do it!) but food seems to appear quite a few times in many of my stories and books.

Even funnier, I just noticed the connection via a group of my favorite quotes from Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery.

In the book, friends Sam and Lita eat favorites like ice cream (several times!), but they also enjoy other favorites like iced tea, lemonade, cookies and turkey sandwiches. (Read chapter 1 and see reviews at link.)


Memorable Quotes:

Lita: “Butter cookies. Any cookies, really. That always does it for me.”

Sam: “He (Petey) looked like a hot dog without the bun.”

Petey the Dachshund: “Woof!”

Buy:
* Print
* KINDLE
* B&N eBook
* KOBO: Smartphone, Tablet, Ereader
* Sony Reader

** Got any food favorites in your own stories or books you like to read? **


In the new ebook, The Killer Valentine Ball, Jess attends what sounds like a fun Valentine's Ball - at first... They have drinks... the tables are fully set, but not how you'd expect...

Just in time for Halloween!

A party at a day camp; a blind date on Valentine's Day. Can you say loser? But this is no ordinary party...

The Killer Valentine Ball has more thrills than Jess ever expected--or will ever forget. (You've got to read it for the surprise ending!)

Excerpt:

As they walked into the shadows, Jess noticed that things weren't quite as they appeared. Sections of the room lightened for a moment before being cast again in deep shadow. What Jess thought she saw in that split second made her heart race...

Read more & Buy: The Killer Valentine Ball

** Also available on Kindle. Buy:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

National Storytelling Festival


If you live nearby or ever make a visit to northeast Tennessee, Jonesborough, Tennessee is a town that you must visit. Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee. Many things have been done, or not done, to keep its old-time charm.
The buildings are well-maintained, but retain their original designs. Brick sidewalks and gracious old homes with beautiful backyard gardens make taking a stroll through this town an absolute pleasure.
This weekend, Jonesborough will host the National Storytelling Festival. Folks from all over the world travel to this charming little town that is home to the International Storytelling Center.
There are some great places to eat in Jonesborough. Quaint cafes, an old-fashioned ice cream shop, a specialty chocolate store, a shop full of classis candies, a pancake house and a gourmet food business are all within walking distance of each other.
Tomorrow, I will be signing books in the Jonesborough Visitors Center as people register for the festival. If anyone reading this will be attending, come by and see me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We Interrupt This Broadcast

Okay, I've got to forgo my usual Tuesday posting to share this with you. Mom and I saw it on television yesterday and we thought The Onion was spoofing the mainstream media again. But this is starting to look real. Aliens from outer space? Really? Seriously? For real? I ought to be scared, but I've been reading science fiction for too long, and I'm just like COOL!

As long as they don't have a book titled TO SERVE MAN, anyway.

Dang! I made it be about food after all!

MA

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pot Luck and Quail Pie

A year or so ago, when my husband was ill for such a long time, many many friends brought us dinner. Casseroles and lasagna, shepherd’s pies, stuffed shells, salads and deserts. It waswonderfully helpful and tremendously appreciated.

Now it’s my turn, and I’m dropping the ball. I know five women who are facing health problems or the much happier circumstance of a new baby, and I really, really want to feed these lovely people.

But niggling things keep popping up to keep me from fulfilling my noble purpose, not the least of which is that I’ve forgotten how to cook the appropriate dishes. Used to be that every woman (and it was always women) had a repertoire of dishes she could whip up to take to the sick, the bereaved, or just any pot luck gathering. Sadly, since I’ve become a novelist, I spend my time writing about just such a woman, but I’ve lost my actual skills!

So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been practicing on my husband and myself. This is very useful, because it allows me not only to make sure I can cook something that won’t poison the recipient, but since it takes the two of us a week to eat up the huge dish I end up making, I can see how long it stays good in the fridge.

Thus far, I’ve done well with a Savannah quiche, a hot pot casserole, and a chili-cornbread shepherd’s pie. In my books, Alafair is continually making dishes to take to someone for some gathering or baby or funeral. In my upcoming book, Crying Blood, she makes a couple of quail pies to take to her mother-n-laws. I’d love to take that to one of my friends, but none of my menfolk have been quail-hunting lately.

In case yours have, here’s how she did it:

Quail Pie

Quail are delicious little birds that can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken. Keep in mind, though, that the bobwhite quail that Shaw and the boys shot on their hunting trip in 1915 are smaller than chickens, so it’ll take more of them. Since they have lived their lives in the wild, quail are also tougher than home-grown poultry, so often game birds are ‘hung’ for a few days to help tenderize the meat. But if the birds are young they can certainly be cooked fresh.
There are innumerable ways to make quail pie, both simple and complex. The easiest is to cut the quail into pieces and fry it in butter. Take the birds out of the skillet and mix the pan juices with a little flour to thicken. Remove the meat from the bones, arrange the quail in a baking dish and pour the pan gravy over all. If the quail are dry, add some bacon on top of the quail meat. Top with pie crust and bake for 20 minutes or so in a hot oven (400 degrees) until golden brown.

The quail pie that Alafair took to her in-laws’ house for Sunday dinner was more like a traditional pot pie. The quail were boiled in salted water until tender, then removed from the bones and returned to the broth while she sauteed an onion in butter in a skillet. When the onion began to brown, she added two or three tablespoons of flour and stirred until smooth, then added in the quail meat with its broth and cooked it over a low flame until the mixture thickened. She then added a couple of cups of cooked vegetables--peas, potatoes, carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes--whatever was on hand, and poured the whole thing into a deep baking dish. She then covered it with a pie crust or biscuit dough and baked as above.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Are YOU ready for some football?


Tonight I'm planning to attend my first football game of the season. My husband and son have been to several already, but tonight is homecoming and I'm really looking forward to going. I chose the picture to the right to commemorate an incredible catch one of JSBHS's players made during last week's game (go, Cody!).

For those of you who may be attending college games on Saturday, here are some tailgating recipes you might like:

BLT Wraps

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 large head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (optional)
16 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Combine mayonnaise and tomatoes in a small bowl. Spread evenly over 1 side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Layer lettuce, onions, and bacon evenly over tortillas; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll up tortillas; cut in half diagonally, and secure with wooden pick.

Fried Chicken

Ingredients

1 (3-4 lb.) whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups self-rising flour
Vegetable oil

Preparation

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place chicken in a shallow dish or zip-top plastic bag, then add buttermilk. Cover or seal, and chill for at least 2 hours. Remove chicken from buttermilk; discard buttermilk immediately. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour.
Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches in a deep skillet or Dutch oven; heat to 360°. Add half of the chicken; cover and cook for 6 minutes. Uncover chicken and cook for 9 minutes. Turn chicken over; cover and cook for 6 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 5 to 9 minutes, turning chicken the last 3 minutes for even browning, if necessary. Drain chicken on paper towels. Repeat with remaining chicken. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Brownies

Ingredients

1 (16-oz.) package peanut-shaped peanut butter sandwich cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 (1.5-oz.) packages chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, coarsely chopped
2 (2.1-oz.) chocolate-covered crispy peanut buttery candy bars, coarsely chopped (we tested with Butterfinger)
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preparation

Combine crushed cookies and butter in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into bottom of a greased aluminum foil-lined 13" x 9" pan, allowing foil to extend over ends of pan. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes. Combine condensed milk, peanut butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle chopped candy bars, chocolate morsels, peanuts, and coconut over crust. Drizzle condensed milk mixture over coconut. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in pan. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of pan. Peel foil away from sides of uncut brownies, and cut into bars.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guilty! Smoking at a Young Age

Reading yesterday's Little Debbie post (never realized they were such an obsession!) made me think of things we had as kids growing up in the 50s: remember those candy cigarettes?

Oh, the guilty pleasure! I'm sure we pretended to "smoke" them, but mostly we ate them. While it probably isn't a good thing to give kids (don't need them walking around with a pack in their pocket), it was just one of those things we took for granted then. Real favorite: flying saucers, red hot coins, banana taffy...

** Find old-fashioned candy and candy cigs. (Cheap too!)

What was your favorite?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ladies, Keep Your Men Away From Little Debbie!

She may look all wholesome, but this girl has a way of entrapping men in her web of shrink-wrapped treats. Once she gets a hold of your them, males will hopelessly succumb to her icing dipped, colored sprinkled, transfat free, sticky sweet charm.
I recently began comtemplating Little Debbie's hold on men when a friend's husband began having health problems that required some dietary changes. She mentioned that he would have to give up his Little Debbie cakes. After talking with her, I began thinking of all the men I know who adore Little Debbie cakes.
My dad has always been obsessed with them. My husband's fondness for the cakes means that, once we are down to a couple of boxes; I am frantically reminded to pick up some at the grocery store. Recently I ran into a friend at our local Sam's Club, she was with her dad and searching for, you guessed it, Little Debbie cakes for her dad to have with his coffee.
If you are not familiar, Little Debbie products come in a rectangular box. Each box contains several wrapped cakes. Some all-time favorites include Fudge Rounds (my husband's favorite) and oatmeal cakes (two soft oatmeal cookies with white cream in the middle). Little Debbie has some fun holiday cakes with colored icing and sprinkles. When I was in school, Little Debbie cakes were a welcome site in any kid's lunchbox.
Here's an interesting story. Several years ago, a truck full of Little Debbie cakes flipped; sending cakes into the Ocoee River. A raft guide from that river told me that they were grabbing cakes out of the river all summer long, and eating them. The amazing thing was that the cakes tasted as fresh as if they had come straight off the grocer's shelf. Now that's some air-tight wrapping!
If you would like to know more, here's her site: http://www.littledebbie.com/

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Killer Gorp

Killer Gorp or Killer Trail Mix. Food in Mystery writers are welcome to use either title.

My husband and one of our sons-in-law and I all have birthdays this month, and had a group party, and my husband was given two varieties of this wonderful foodstuff.

In case you don't know, gorp or trail mix or scroggin is a mixture of dried fruit, nuts and other small dry foods. It's high-energy, and great to take on camping trips, hikes, long drives or anywhere else where a quick shot of energy/protein would be useful. Sometimes students keep some around for late-night study sessions. I used it to help me quit smoking. Any time I wanted a cigarette, I had a bit of gorp instead.

According to World Wide Words, gorp probably doesn't "mean" anything except what it is.

I would post a recipe, but there is no real recipe. Put in anything you want. Dried pineapple. Coconut flakes. Raisins. Sultanas. Dried cherries. Chocolate chips. Yogurt drops. Peanuts.

Which brings me to the "killer" part. Suppose a character had a severe allergy to nuts, so he always bought or made gorp without nuts. And suppose somebody wanted him dead and crept into his house and added nut dust to his gorp. Or suppose somebody just wanted someone out of the way on a hike or out of his room during part of a study session, and cut up prunes into a trail mix rich with dried fruit.

The possibilities are...er...endless.

Scraggin' by scroggin.

You're welcome.

Marian Allen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can you stand one more blog posting about Tomatoes?





This is the last for this year. Promise.

If you remember a couple of weeks ago I was heading off to the heirloom tomato tasting at Vicki’s Veggies (nothing to do with me) here in Prince Edward County, Ontario. They had, I beleive, 137 types of tomatoes laid out on long tables in front of the farmhouse. We walked up and down the line and tasted and made notes and tasted some more. We could then put in an order for seedlings in the spring for the varieties we liked and/or buy tomatoes to take home. The ones I liked best were Russian Prince George, Black Yum Yum, Dino Egg and Green Zebra.

Also, if you remember I was complaining about my own tomato garden this year and what a disaster it was. Well, there were two exceptions: I bought only two seedlings from Vicki’s in the spring and planted them in the herb bed close to the house. They remind me now of The Day of the Triffids. They’re huge! The plants have grown up the deck railing, as you can see, and half way to the swimming pool, which you can’t see. They’re killed the basil, probably by cutting off the sun, and are thick with tomatoes. Now my only worry is that the frost will get them before I do because they are very slow to ripen.

In the attached pictures, the ones of picked tomatoes are from the tasting, the ones on the vine are mine.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nachissimo!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the many wonders of home-made pizza (thanks for the idea, Marian). The ease and variety and deliciousness of making your very own pizza got me to pondering on other quick and easy snack food dishes that can be made into gourmet treats in your very own kitchen.

And since last Thursday, Sept. 16, was Mexican Independence Day, it’s appropriate that I share a few thoughts about one of them. I speak of nachos.

When you buy nachos at a Mexican restaurant, or someplace like Taco Bell, what you’ll get is a big pile of corn chips smothered in greasy melted cheese, some chopped tomatoes, a squirt of liquid sour cream, and maybe beans, onions, a jalapeno pepper slice or two. In a fancy place, you might get some seasoned ground beef or pulled pork.

I’m not saying that boatloads of melted cheddar isn’t tasty, but when you make nachos at home, why clog your arteries and blow your diet on something you could buy in an eatery? Why not tart it up and make something unique and even mind blowing?

One of my biggest objections to restaurant nachos is that all the goodies are on the top of the pile, and if you’re sharing, you’d better grab fast or you’ll end up eating nothing but the bare chips from the bottom. So Rule One for making nachos at home is to spread the chips out in a single layer over the bottom of a cookie sheet or large baking dish, so that every delectable morsel is covered in topping.

And when it comes to creating that topping, let yourself go. I’ve always found that some of the best creations come about when you raid the fridge and use whatever you have at hand. Combinations occur that you never would have thought of. Nor is there any reason to stick with traditional Mexican or Mex-Am ingredients. Why not Indian-themed toppings? Nachos Vindaloo, anyone? Greek nachos are wonderful, with garlic and mizithra, tomatoes and cukes, olives, rosemary, a sprinkle of feta to finish. Even if you’re a nacho traditionalist, you can use black beans or lentils instead of brown beans, chicken, lamb, prosciutto or sausage instead of beef, Goat cheese or a good Spanish or Basque sheep cheese - even something like Emmentaler or smoked provolone. And don’t forget the herbs. My faves are fresh lemon thyme and cilantro.

Why not desert nachos? Cook them up with peaches, sugar and cinnamon, then top with whipped cream. I love them with melted bar chocolate, maybe some cinnamon and a dash of chile powder (try it!) Put them under the broiler for a few seconds until the chocolate is melted and bubbly, then serve them up hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or if you’re celebrating Mexican Independence Day, add a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of Dulce de Leche ice cream.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hide N Seek!


Hi, guys:


I found a site that might be of interest to you. The site is Viqua Games, and it allows you to create your own Hide N Seek games. I made one for Sew Deadly, the bi-weekly newsletter for the embroidery book series, featuring the latest cover, Stitch Me Deadly. Be sure and check out the game on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

This might be a fun way to promote your books on your site on in a blog post. I think it's cool!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Power up with Confidence

Today, I am speaking and selling books at the 17th Annual Women In Business Conference in Abingdon, Virginia. The theme I was given to speak on is Power up with Confidence.
I am pleased that as a writer, I get to speak on this topic. Writing is an endeavor that requires us to have confidence.
I have often said that the only thing seperating me from most other people who love to write and want to get published is that I have pursued it. Yes, it is scary to open your writing up to others' rejection, but if you find some fans along the way; it is so worth it!

Hope all of the Fatal Foodie have a great day. Remember, Power up With Confidence!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Perfect Storm Party

Donna Fletcher Crow is guesting at my site today, talking about A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, the latest in her Monastery Murders series.

I'm at Echelon Explorations, talking about where Uncle Phineas, the reaver priest in my sf novel EEL'S REVERENCE, came from.

And, as I always am unless a storm knocks out the power, I'm here at Fatal Foodies.

The contest is still running, so join the tour and enter to win a book or your name in a short story.

Speaking of storms knocking out the power and speaking, as we have been, of cupcakes, I was reminded of a time that combined both.

Our #1 daughter and her husband and son live next door to us. We have a basement and they don't, so they come to our house whenever there's severe weather. We live in Tornado Alley, so that's usually several times a year.

This particular time was the day after our #3 daughter's wedding. It took place on our back deck, and her wedding "cake" was a four-tier stand of cupcakes of various flavors and icings decorated with sugar and real flowers. I must have a picture of it around here somewhere, but I can't locate it.

Anyway, we had a bunch of cupcakes left over, which the bride and groom left with us rather than taking them on their honeymoon. If it had been me, I'd have left the groom and taken the cupcakes, but that's another story.

So, when severe weather blew in, daughter, her husband, her son and her mother-in-law, my mother and my grandfather all gathered in the basement. I brought down the cupcakes and some soft drinks, and we had a storm party. Our grandson, instead of being afraid when he has to take shelter in the basement, looks forward to it. It isn't danger, it's a storm party!

Marian Allen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Arcadia Farms


I’m going to do something I’ve never done on this website. I’m going to give a restaurant review. I’m talking about Arcadia Farms today because Don and I happened to have lunch at their Phoenix Art Museum location while we were there to see the Museum’s exhibition on Cézanne and American Modernism that runs from July 1 - September 26, 2010.

Arcadia Farms has been a presence in the Metropolitan Phoenix Valley for over twenty years. There are currently three locations. Besides the one at the Art Museum there is a lovely location in Scottsdale (right across the street from my press, handily enough), and one at the Phoenix Center for the Performing Arts, which I have yet to try.

You can almost tell from their locations the kind of artful cuisine the cafes offer. I say cafes rather than restaurants, since only breakfast and lunch are offered, but, oh, what breakfasts and lunches.

Their website says that Arcadia Farms has always used local organically grown, pesticide-free, hormone-free and trans fat-free ingredients in all recipes. As a member of Chefs' Collaborative, Arcadia Farms promotes sustainable cuisine by supporting local farmers and inspiring the public to make healthy food choices.

It’s that organic, locally grown part that bowled me over. Don and I shared half a tomato, basil, mozzarella sandwich made with locally grown heirloom tomatoes, organic basil and fresh mozzarella on focaccia bread, and half an open-faced Croque Provençal sandwich with oven cured tomatoes, roasted asparagus and melted cheese with basil pesto. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet every ingredient was fresh and full of flavor. The greens in the side salad were so flavorful that they hardly needed dressing.

The cafe was offering some special dishes with a French twist in honor of the Cézanne exhibition, like a French Dip sandwich with thinly sliced beef tenderloin on a crusty roll. Or a good old Croque Monsieur -rosemary ham, béchamel and gruyere cheese with roasted tomato-apricot chutney.

Sounds like a good reason to make the trek to downtown Phoenix again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Special Guest: Jenn McKinlay


Today, I'm welcoming Jenn McKinlay (also known as Lucy Lawrence) to the Fatal Foodies kitchen. Jenn is a talented author of cupcake mysteries, decoupage mysteries, romantic comedies, and library lover's mysteries.

Gayle: Jenn, how does the tone differ in your decoupage mysteries versus your cupcake mysteries? (For example, my cake decorating series tends to be more comical than my embroidery series.)


Jenn: What is it about food that lends itself to wackiness? A reviewer recently described my Cupcake Bakery Series as very Lucy and Ethel, which I took to be a great compliment since I Love Lucy is one of my favorite shows of all time.

The decoupage mystery series and the upcoming library lover's mystery series share the same type of irreverent humor as the cupcake bakery series, but frosting gets flung in the cupcake series and you just don't see that over the top type of humor in the other two.

Gayle: If you couldn't write cozy mysteries, what genre would you choose?

Jenn: Well, I used to write romantic comedies, so I've been there and bought the t-shirt. I love writing mysteries, but if I was kicked to the curb tomorrow, I would probablywrite young adult adventure stories. I have two young sons and we've been having a ball reading the classics (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) as well asthe newer sensations (The Shadows: The Books Of Elsewhere). It seems the place you can take the greatest risks as a novelist is in young adult literature. Children are much more open minded, I think.

Gayle: Great observation! What writer(s) inspired you to become a writer yourself?

Jenn: Lucy Maude Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott. I read all of their works when I was eleven years old and knew then that I would be a writer someday.

Gayle: How do you feel writing one of your series under a pen name helps or hinders you?

Jenn: It helps by giving you a new identity in that you can break away from your other series and draw new readers, while it hurts because if readers like your work, they may not find you under another name. It's a mixed bag, for sure.

Gayle: Do you have a favorite recipe to share with us?

Jenn: Absolutely! This is my favorite cupcake recipe from the series. Melanie Cooper, my heroine in the cupcake bakery series, will occassionally get insomnia. This is called Moonlight Madness and its her go-to cupcake for nights that she can't sleep (mine, too)!

Moonlight Madness Cupcakes:

A chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting rolled in shredded coconut and topped with an unwrapped Hersey’s Kiss.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup milk
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water, warm
1 bag shredded coconut, sweetened

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, extract and water. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Scoop into paper lined cupcake pans and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Makes 18.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2-3 tbspns milk, or whipping cream

Directions:
In a large bowl, cream butter and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. For best results, keep icing in refrigerator when not in use. This icing can be stored up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.
Makes 3 cups of icing.

To finish the Moonlight Madness Cupcakes, spread a generous amount of the vanilla buttercream frosting on top of the cupcake with a rubber spatula, then roll the top of
the cupcake in a bowl of shredded coconut before the frosting dries so the coconut
will adhere to the frosting. Top with an unwrapped Hersey’s Kiss.

Gayle: That sounds delicious!

Jenn: Thanks for having me visit! It's been a pleasure!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More Fall Fruit: Peaches!

Continuing on the fruit theme, I thought I'd talk about peaches since I have about 50 or so sitting on my counter, picked fresh from the peach tree in my yard.

I'm not a big peach fan, though they are pretty good, but how many can you eat? So everyone I know has shared the bounty.

Years ago we had a huge apple tree near the garage. That produced lots of great apples and apple pies, but an accident (the tree was hit by a car) and storms finally took their toll. I always forget that on the edge of the wetland there are a couple pear trees, also.

I'm not much of a cook, but I have to admit this recipe sounds good - and easy. Maybe I'll try it.

Peach Cobbler Dump Cake II from All Recipes.com

Ingredients
1 - 9 x 13" pan

1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained, juice reserved
1 (6 ounce) package peach flavored gelatin mix
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.Place peaches in bottom of 9x13 cake pan. Sprinkle dry peach gelatin over peaches. Sprinkle dry cake mix over gelatin. Cut up butter and distribute over cake mix. Pour 1 cup of reserved peach juice and 1/2 cup of water over the top.
3.Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until the top is browned.

* Other peach recipes

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Understanding Apples"


Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, which means the unofficial beginning of fall. Fall immediately conjures up thoughts of apples. Whether they are baked up in an apples crisp, fried in butter for breakfast, coated in caramel or simply served in their natural state; apples always make me think of crisp fall weather, hooded sweatshirts, football, crunchy piles of leaves and Halloween.
Speaking of apples; the title of my post is also the title of a really good book written by a local author and alumni of my high school. JS Moore is a storyteller who writes works of "faction". This is his term for true tales that are a bit embelished through oral history tellings and retellings.
"Understanding Apples" is Moore's first book. The book is a loving tribute to his grandfather. Moore reminds us that it is the little things about those we love that make the most impact. Bits of wisdom, quirky habits and little expressions of caring are remembered all throughout this book. While reminiscing about his grandfather, Moore explores history and legends of our area.
As I read this book, I was impressed by JS Moore's love for his family and heritage. What also impressed me was his dedication to getting the stories behind some of the most noted people and places in the Kinsport,Tennessee area.
While JS Moore truly enjoys talking to people, it is also evident that he is a wonderful listener; taking in things that people tell him and winding this information into wonderfully entertaining tales. You don't have to be from Kingsport, Tennessee to enjoy the works of JS Moore. All you need is an appreciation of family, home and the love of a good story!
Moore has two follow-ups to Understanding Apples. Here is a link with additional information:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Eats What?

Guess what this is? It's a BOOK LAUNCH!

My fantasy novel, EEL'S REVERENCE, has been re-issued by Echelon Press, and is now available from Amazon's Kindle store and in various other eformats at OmniLit.

To celebrate, I'm running a contest (details below) and I'm also on a blog book tour.

Since this is Fatal Foodies, I feel compelled to talk about how food figures into my novel.

One of my best reference books is Reay Tannahill's FOOD IN HISTORY--my go-to reference when I'm filling in the details of a world. What kind of country do the characters I'm working with live in? What kind of hunting/cooking technology do they have? For EEL'S REVERENCE, I placed the action primarily in a coastal area known as The Eel. Technology is basically late Middle Ages. Most people eat locally and frugally, but the wealthy can import foods and spices and culinary expertise from, as Terry Pratchett's characters often put it, "forn parts".

As has been said on this blog before, food sets the scene and time and is one way to characterize people or situations.

In EEL'S REVERENCE, the first meal Aunt Libby eats is served to her by Muriel, owner of a restaurant near the harbor. So what else would the food be but seafood and sea weed? Well, it could have been lots of things, but that pegged the restaurant and Muriel--food that's local, cheap and fresh. Aunt Libby even notes the cooking smells, and approves of the oil smelling clear. So Muriel, in addition to her other attributes, is a good, clean, honest cook who doesn't cut corners if it compromises quality.

When Aunt Libby goes into a farmhouse basement, she finds herself in a storeroom filled with preserved garden produce and home-made cheeses. The family is industrious, self-sufficient and plans ahead.

She dines with a rich merchant and says, "Servants in saffron and scarlet offered us dishes of rice, fruit, seafood and savory meat. Personally, I could have done with some vegetables, but Theofric wouldn't have had anything so common on his table." Another meal with the same merchant is even worse: "Everything was imported, which means nothing was fresh. If it wasn't smoked, it was dried or potted. If it wasn't creamed, it was sugared, sometimes both. What wasn't swimming in overspiced gravy was spread with overspiced nut paste. Even the fruit was stewed in brandy. The only vegetables in sight were those cut into cunning shapes or bordering the dishes, to make these costly messes look appetizing. I took as little as I could of the 'food', and made my meal by crabbing bits of garnish." When someone subsequently gives her an orange, it seals their friendship.

Chapter 1 of EEL'S REVERENCE is posted on my web site. "Line of Descent", a short story set in the same world, is free at Smashwords.

To enter the contest, just comment on my posts at any of my Blog Book Tour stops or on any of my posts at my web site AND mention EEL'S REVERENCE. Prizes are:

  • Free copy of EEL'S REVERENCE or FORCE OF HABIT, my upcoming sf/farce. (2 separate prizes-1 of each)
  • Free softback copy of SWORD AND SORCERESS XXIII, with my story "Undivided" in it.
  • Free softback copy of DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, with my story "Team Player" in it.
  • Your name in the story I'm going to write to promote FORCE OF HABIT.
Hope to see you on the tour!

Marian Allen

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tasting Tomatoes






Faithful readers may know that I am somewhat of a tomato fan. I have blogged before about my tomato fetish. Well today, dear reader, is TOMATO TASTING DAY!

I will soon be trotting off, drooling with anticipation, to Vicki’s Veggies in Prince Edward County, Ontario. (NB: Another Vicki, nothing to do with me.) Vicki’s is famous for the quality of its organic and heirloom produce, tomatoes in particular. She grows myriad varieties of heirloom tomatoes to sell at market and to provide to local restaurants.

Every Labour Day weekend they have a Tomato Tasting Day. Long trestle tables are set up in front of the farm house and all the varieties of tomatoes are laid out for your tasting pleasure with labels and descriptions. She has about fifty different ones. The sizes, the colours, the tastes are all so different. And to think I once thought there were three types of tomatoes: little ones, big ones, and oblong ones. And they were all red.

Until I first went to Vicki’s two years ago, I did not know what an incredible variety of tomatoes there are in the world. I’ve included a few pictures to give you an idea.

www.vickisveggies.com

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pizza Dreams

I greatly enjoyed Marian’s entry of August 30, below, about her creation of a quick and delicious home-made pizza. It put me in mind of all the wonderful yet completely non-traditional pizzas I’ve enjoyed over the years.

One of my best pizza-eating memories involves a left-over wad of bread dough, Gorgonzola cheese, onions and garlic caramelized in a skillet, and thin slices of day-old fried potatoes.

My nephew used to love to put a drained can of sliced peaches over shredded mozzarella on his pre-made pizza crust and sprinkle it with cinnamon. Then plop a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top when the pie was fresh out of the oven.

Which reminds me of the ham/pitted dark cherry/jalapeno concoction that rocked everybody’s world at a party I attended years ago.

And if you’re not a pizza snob, here’s a tasty experience. My husband likes to make what I call an “eight-year-old’s” pizza. Ingredients: One flour tortilla or flatbread slice, several glops of ketchup, covered with slices of cheddar cheese, topped with a few thin slivers of onion. It’s delicious.

It’s hard beat a good old thin-crust pie dripping with cheese and tomato sauce and whatever topping makes you happy, but if you have imagination and are up for adventure, like Marian is, there’s no limit to what can be done with a pizza crust.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Foods to Fear?

A recent Yahoo story mentioned the five top foods that people fear most...

Ready?

1 Eggs made the list - probably for good reason considering all the stuff going on right now, though admittedly runny eggs are unappealing anyway.

2. Bwaaahhhh! Beware the terrible Raisin (and other dried fruits)! Is it the wrinkles? How about prunes?

(Okay admit it - the first thing I thought of were those creepy Singing Raisins... enough reason to be scared right?

3. Mushrooms. As the story notes, many people fear a food that's classified as fungi, but well, I like mushrooms. But then I don't pick them off trees which means fungi to me...

4. Cheese. Seriously? (Huh? What's scary about it other than high cholesterol?) Which for me, always brings to mind that funny question the patient asked Dick van Dyke in his doctor show: What's life without cheese? (Really.)

5. Milk. Being a non-milk drinker, I can relate. Don't like it, though a good milkshake will suffice.

** What are your feared or most hated foods?