Sunday, October 31, 2010

Negative Image

I’ve been wracking my brains for days trying to think of a food related theme to introduce my new book, Negative Image.

I’ve come up blank.

Sorry everyone. Not much eating goes on in this book, and certainly no cooking. There isn't even a Hallowe'en link I can toss in.

So instead I’ll just have to talk about the book.

Negative Image is the fourth in the Constable Molly Smith book from Poisoned Pen Press. The release date is supposedly November 2nd, but it seems to be available at most online sites already.

What would you do if you believe the person you trust most in the world has betrayed you? What would you do if you discover that the person you trust most in the world believes you capable of betrayal?

When his wife’s former fiancé is found dead of a single shot to the back of the head, Trafalgar police Sergeant John Winters is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life: loyalty to his job or to his wife. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes the heart of Constable Molly Smith’s family.

“…combines the crisp plotting of the best small-town police procedurals with trenchant commentary on such universal problems as love and trust.” Kirkus Reviews

“Delany … deftly sprinkles clues–and red herrings–without ever slighting her engaging characters.” Publishers Weekly

Negative Image is available at,, other online stores and the best independent and chain booksellers. It is also available for Kindle and other e-formats. If you'd like a sneak peek, the first two chapters are on my web page at

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Popcorn Balls

I miss the way Halloween used to be. When I was trick-or-treat age, back in the Middle Ages, as soon as darkness fell on Oct 31, the streets of my suburban neighborhood filled with seas of little hobos and pirates and witches. It was literally a mob scene.

And the treats! No store-bought mini-Snickers for us mid-century ragamuffins. Sadly, it’s not a good idea to give out homemade treats any more, unless both the giver and receiver have undergone a background check. I’d be loathe to let my kid eat a stranger’s cookie. But in those halcyon days, my sisters and I always came home with a pillow case full of little bags of cookies and brownies, apples and packs of Juicy Fruit gum, dimes and nickels, licorice whips, Slo-Pokes, Hershey Bars, and my very favorite treat of all time, popcorn balls!

So your little ones may have to make do with bite-sized Twixt and Krackles from the neighbors, but there’s no reason you can’t create your own tradition with a homemade popcorn ball to celebrate the season.

This quick recipe is very simple and unadorned, but there are all sorts of fancy add-ins and binders made of caramel and chocolate and who knows what else. We often enjoyed mixing red-hots with the popcorn.



3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter

2 teaspoons cold water

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup marshmallows

5 quarts plain popped popcorn


Combine the corn syrup, butter, cold water, powdered sugar, and marshmallows in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully pour the hot mixture over the popcorn and mix, coating each kernel.

Grease your hands with butter or vegetable shortening and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ghost poo?

We had a Halloween party a few years ago, and one of the biggest hits among the refreshments was the "ghost poo." The recipe calls them Peanut Buter Snowballs; but for Halloween, ghost poo just seemed to be a better moniker.

Makes 1 dozen
(Take this as a warning because a dozen doesn't go very far. You might want to double or triple the recipe)


1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 teaspoons butter - softened
white chocolate


In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter and butter. Mix well. Shape into balls and place on waxed paper. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm. Coat with melted chocolate.

Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Halloween. Bread anyone?

Oh this is just incredible. Now that's some bakery! (Head-cheese anyone? haaa!)
* And there's even more gross pix here.

Yes it's real bread. Yum!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Halloween Classics

Washington Irving has scared the whiz out of people for generations with his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I can think of no other tale that is quite as scary or brilliant for this time of year.
If you have not seen Tim Burton's movie adaptation of this story, you ought to check it out. The visuals are both eery and beautiful. A cozy night could consist of curling up on the couch with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a bowl of popcorn and a caramel apple!

Since my kids are too little to be that scared, we may tune into It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. It airs tonight on ABC. This one's just as classic, in a different sort of way.

What's you're favorite Halloween story?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Roasted Entrails

My thanks go to Leslie R. Lee for this post topic. The picture on his most excellent photoblog for October 24, 2010 was called Entrails. Here is the picture (copyright 10-23-2010 by Leslie R. Lee).

This is what you do with pumpkin or squash entrails:

Pick off the strings and discard them. Do NOT wash the ick off the seeds. Toss the seeds with melted butter or with oil and seasonings. I like Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt, my go-to seasoning for just about everything.

Spread seeds in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and roast at 350 until toasty. Or you can toast them in a skillet.

WARNING: Entrails are addictive!

Marian Allen

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Meat" Loaf

Yesterday some friends and I were having a conversation about meatloaf. It began with us comparing our mothers’ respective recipes. It seems that everyone’s mom had her own version that has been passed down in her family through the ages. The only common ingredient seems to be some sort of ground meat. My own mother’s (which I immortalized in my first book, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming) involved ground beef, canned tomatoes, sauteed onion, and cornflakes. Simple, and the cornflakes added a nice depth of flavor and a hint of sweetness.
As the conversation progressed, my friends wondered how we survived being meatloaf-less for the thirty years we were strictly vegetarian. Of course, we didn’t. There are as many lovely “meatloaf” recipes for vegetarians as there are for carnivores.

One of our very favorites was made with ground nuts. Any nut is nice, but I usually used a combination of walnuts and hazelnuts. I got the recipe out of a little cookbook we bought in England way back in the 1970s. I made the nutloaf many many times in my slender youth, but as I got older and more substantial, I didn’t cook it so much because of the calories. Eventually I forgot exactly how it’s done, and the little English cookbook is long gone. But take my word for it, it was delicious.
I’ve also made perfectly tasty loaves out of all kinds of beans (especially lentils), leftover cooked veggies and stale bread, mushrooms, veggie burgers, and who knows what else. But there was one...

The king of all veggie loaves, I propose, is a concoction called “Yogi steak” which I learned to make from a 3HO cookbook. The 3HO Foundation is an offshoot of the Sikh religion, founded by Yogi Bhajan. Their diet is vegetarian and quite spicy, and the wonderful Yogi steak will clear your sinuses, I promise. The cookbook, (Conscious Cookery by Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa, published by her in 1977) is copyrighted, so I won’t reproduce the recipe here, but I can give you the highlights.

The Yogi steak is made mainly of soy flour and cornmeal, with lots of garlic, mustard, and cayenne pepper. It’s mixed with various sprouts and fresh veggies, including onion and grated ginger. After it is formed into a loaf and put in the pan, you then pour olive oil all over it and bake it.

She suggests that the loaf be served with yogurt on the side, and believe me, something cool to go along is mandatory. It is so spicy hot that it’s hard to eat, but so delicious that you can’t stop. When you’ve eaten all you can manage, you’re sweating, red-faced, and runny-nosed, with tears of pain and joy running down your cheeks.

The author says that the “combination of the chlorophyll [of the veggies] and the spices have been found to totally purge the system of any impurity.”

Amen, sister.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just ten days left!

Have you entered yet? This contest for my newsletter subscribers runs through October 31, and contestants may enter once per day.

This prize is for a signed copy of Murder Takes the Cake, a signed copy of The Quick and The Thread, a Slatkin & Co. Creamy Pumpkin scented candle, a miniature Pirates of the Caribbean cross-stitch kit, and a $25 Amazon gift card (not pictured).

One thing that makes this prize pack special is that the edition of Murder Takes The Cake which is currently being offered is no longer available. The book is being rereleased by Simon & Schuster in March of 2011. The new release has been edited to include some additional back story about Daphne and Ben, and more recipes and cake decorating tips are included in the back.

Since the contest is for subscribers to the Gayle Trent/Amanda Lee newsletter, if you aren't a subscriber, go to my website and fill out the form at the top of the page. That way, not only will you receive information about this contest (such as, the winner); you’ll also learn about new contests for newsletter subscribers.

You can enter once each day. To enter, send an e-mail to with the subject line October Contest. The contest will run from now (it started on Oct. 1 for current newsletter subscribers) until October 31. On November 1, a random number will be chosen from the number of contest entries. The winner will receive an announcement through the newsletter to confirm or obtain a mailing address. If I don’t receive a confirmation e-mail from the winner within three days, another number will be chosen, etc., until a winner is confirmed.

Good luck! Stay tuned for November contest information! :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Food! (In Miniature!)

It's Day 2 - and all about Halloween food today as part of The 12 Days of Halloween in Miniature at my Candid Canine blog.

You'll be amazed, so, stop by and see what's cooking. haa! (Skull cookies by Kiva Atkinson.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rain or Shine, Win or Loose...Let's Just Have Soup

Into all lives a little rain must fall.
Anyone who follows SEC football knows that the Tennessee Vols are having a really bad year. Skylar's screaming and crying as she tugs at her Tennessee jersey is not much different from the reactions demonstrated by men all across Tennessee.
Even the Vols lackluster season will not put a damper on our October.
The same is true with the weather. Yesterday, pretty weather and a neighbor's wagon full of pumpkins provided the perfect setting for some pretty fall photos. This morning, we have woken up to a rain; which threatens to keep us indoors. Nonetheless its a great day for some nice, comforting soup. Here is a simple recipe for one of my favoite soups. It is so good with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. Whether I am eating a bowl of chili while watching my Vols lose, or sipping soup from a cup on a rainy day; soup seems to make it all better!
Creamy Tomato Soup
To a can of condensed tomato soup, add a cup or so of milk or half-and-half.
Add a pinch of salt, pinch of pepper and a tablespoon of either basil or dill.
Simmer until it comes to a slow boil, stirring as it simmers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Food For Everybody!

I start every day by working these links, and I encourage you to do it, too. It's fast (now that we have high-speed, even faster) and dangerous. Extreme clicking--that's the sport for me!

The first link is the most dangerous. it's The Hunger Site. Actually, it's The Breast Cancer Site, but it has a row of tabs across the top. You can go to each one and click. Each time you do (one click on each tab each day), the site's sponsors donate toward the cause featured on the tab: Hunger, Breast Cancer detection, Child Health, Literacy, saving Rainforests and Animal Rescue. The danger comes from the sidebars and the Thank You pages--that's where the sponsors post pictures of their wares: jewelry, accessories, SCARVES (I'm addicted to scarves) and more.

It was through an ad on The Hunger Site that I found World Wide Recipes, the best darned recipezine in the whole darned universe. :)

After The Hunger Site, I go to Free Rice and start playing. I keep it open and go back to it through the day and play a few screens in between tasks. Free Rice is a game with a serious purpose. You can pick a category--I use vocabulary--and answer multiple-choice questions. For each correct answer, the sponsors donate ten grains of rice to the World Food Programme to end world hunger. It's amazing how quickly those ten grains add up during a day. The danger here is: it's freaking addictive.

While I'm playing--um, I mean, improving my vocabulary--at Free Rice, I go to Free Kibble and answer a trivia question about dogs. Right or wrong, my click there donates kibble to dogs in shelters. I click through from there to its sister site and answer a trivia question about cats to donate kibble to shelter cats. Danger: Makes me want to go to all the shelters everywhere and hug all the dogs and cats and take them home and be a crazy dog-and-cat lady and get shut down by the Health Department--.... No. No. Mustn't do that. Mustn't.

So that's my morning. Takes about five minutes, plus the bits and pieces during the day of clicking on the Free Rice vocabulary. Won't you join me in the dangerous games?

Marian Allen

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Empires of Food

Our civilization is based on food.

Seems like a no-brainer, but I’m thinking new thoughts about that these days. I’m reading a great new book titled Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations by Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas. The book explores how various civilizations of the past have grown and expanded when times are good – good weather, improved technology, specialization of crops, fertile, new ground to cultivate leading to plentiful crops – and then collapsed into anarchy and despair when the growth cannot be sustained.

The Roman Empire, Europe in the 14th century are the examples I’ve read so far.

You can probably guess where the book is headed. In our own times decades of good weather and exploding new technologies have led to the abundance of food that we (most of us reading this) enjoy today. But weather is changing, and new technologies are exploiting the soil, not replenishing it, and agriculture is so monoculture it is all not sustainable.

I’m hoping the book will have a cheerful ending, but I doubt it.

Anyway, trying to do my bit, I got my first delivery of chicken from the farmer up the road. He showed up at my door, big smile on his face, bag of chicken in hand, dirt on his boots. My order of pork will follow.

Of course the chicken has been delivered either whole or cut into large pieces. Not the delicately cut skinless, boneless breasts that I buy at the grocery store, or the tray of identically sized thighs. And the whole chicken is gigantic. I’ll be looking for recipes using left-over roast chicken and sharpening my chef’s knives.

And hopefully delay the collapse of western civilization as we know it for another meal or two.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A fun, new book video: Searching for a Starry Night

Since it's taken me forever to make one of these, I thought I'd be self-indulgent today and share my new video for Searching for a Starry Night. I tried several programs and it was just too complicated, so finally I just used the slideshow program at One True Media and it was easy! So, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Books for Breast Cancer Awareness

Later this morning I will appear on a local show called Daytime Tri-Cities to announce an exciting giveaway. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I am giving away five sets of the Cutie Pies Chronicles to those who have bravely faced this disease. Viewers can email a paragraph or so to nomiante someone they know who has or is currently fighting the brave war against breast cancer. I will draw five names from the entries. At a later date, I will go back on the show to share some of the most inspiring stories.

My last book has a main characater who is diagnosed and undergoing treatment for breast cancer. During a time when she feels fear and sadness, the character also is overwhelmed with the love and care shown from her family, friends and community. Whether its a casserole dropped off at her door, a fundraiser in her honor or prayers and support; my character gathers tremendous strength from those who care about her.

If you live in my area tune in to 11 Connects at 10:00 EST.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bribed, Begad!

The good news is, we have a bookstore in my little town now!

The bad news is, they charge money for books. (Well, yes, but I can dream, can't I? After all, the only book sources we've had here for years are Used, Grocery, Library and Other People's.)

The good news is, I bought a copy of Mark Bittman's FOOD MATTERS, a book I've wanted since I first saw it reviewed. It's a persuasive argument--with recipes--by a major chef and food writer for doing what we try to do already: eat mindfully for improving the health of ourselves, the food supply, and the planet.

The bad news is, Charlie snagged it as soon as I got home and now goes around telling me what an extremely good book it is and how I ought to read it.

The good news is, he pacified me by giving me a copy of George MacDonald Fraser's last novel, THE REAVERS. He (Charlie, not GMF) knows I love the Flashman books, and he knows I spelled reivers the same archaic way (reavers) in my fantasy, EEL'S REVERENCE.

The extra good news is, I'm very much enjoying THE REAVERS, and FOOD MATTERS will still be here when Charlie's done with it.

The bad news is, now I need to buy THE FOOD MATTERS COOKBOOK.... And we have a bookstore in our town....


Sunday, October 10, 2010

She ain't no Martha Stewart and he ain't no Chef Ramsay

Our guest today is Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif). She's a wonderful writer, a wonderful friend, and just our type. :)

Take it away, Cherish!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you so much for having me guest on Fatal Foodies during my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour, which lunches―I mean, launches―my contemporary romantic suspense, Lancelot's Lady. Today I'm going to talk about characters who cook, and I'm not talking about in the bedroom.

Cooking can be a hurried rush of things found in the fridge thrown into a pot and well burned or an intricately planned menu with complementing wine created by a masterful cook. It can be one character knowing how to make fifty things out of hamburger or another character that shops for the finest fresh seafood and makes homemade sauces. Either way, adding this element to the development of a character can tell us a lot about that character.

Imagine reading about a female character who doesn't know how to do much more than toast bread. She ain't no Martha Stewart. Imagine her then inviting Mr. Right over for dinner and hoping to impress him. She probably burns the pot roast. Or maybe she orders in and tries to pass it off as her creation. Or maybe her best friend cooks it for her and she passes it off as her own creation.

The above situation could result in a very humorous situation. She burns the roast, smoke fills the air and Mr. Right arrives to a small kitchen fire and saves the day, while the protagonist ends up with a sooty face and a black lump of coal stuck to a pan. We'd laugh, wouldn't we? Or Mr. Right loves her (friend's) cooking so much that he asks her to cook for some event. Uh oh! Now she's in trouble.

Now imagine that the roles are reversed and he can't cook. He ain't no Chef Ramsay. He tries to cook that same blasted roast and has the same result. She arrives in time to witness the fire trucks leaving the area. She finds him standing in his kitchen holding the charcoaled lump of roast. Endearing, isn't it? Hey, at least he tried! Now they'll have to go out to some fancy restaurant. Oh, darn...

Imagine Mr. Right is the finest self-taught Chef. Maybe he's got all of Chef Ramsey's cookbooks. He prepares the most perfect meal for the heroine. And damn, is she impressed! Perfectly seasoned steak, mashed potatoes whipped to perfection, sautéed asparagus with a cranberry and white wine reduction sauce and chocolate covered strawberries, hand dipped by him, for dessert. Oh, and don't forget the fresh whip cream. Yeah, I'll have one of him to go.

Now imagine he can't cook, but she's a wonderful chef. She prepares a dinner of roasted chicken and almond and cranberry stuffing with fresh herbs, plus a salad of garden fresh vegetables with a homemade balsamic fig dressing. Dessert is chocolate mousse with grated dark chocolate on top. He arrives and is indeed impressed. This woman's a "keeper".

We read romance because of the fantasy. We enjoy the romantic journey. And most readers enjoy characters that are flawed, and a bad cook would certainly be a flaw in my book (pun intended). But whether a character can cook or not, each situation creates a more rounded character and can lead to some interesting situations. Personally, I find it hugely entertaining to write a scene about a bad cook.

Now I must leave. My husband has made his famous "Marc's Surprise" for dinner. I'll be honest with you, it's no surprise. It's almost the only thing he can cook besides barbecue. But Marc's a keeper, even though he ain't no Chef Ramsay. Who says a gal needs a guy who can cook? That's what restaurants are for.

Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at and Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Do you think you're a good cook? In the kitchen, I mean.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Armenian Cucumbers

Lately my yard guy has been bringing us his excess Armenian cucumbers. If you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting an Armenian cuke face to face, that’s one I’m holding in the picture. It does indeed look like a weird, anemic cucumber, and it tastes like one, as well. But the truth is that an Armenian cucumber is a type of melon. They can grow to an incredible size, and are usually all twisty and turny, but they’re tender and thin-skinned and there’s no need to peel them. It’s easy to digest, and never bitter, and it grows like crazy, even in weather far too hot and dry for a real cucumber.

I like to eat them like cukes, and they’re especially good in Mediterranean-type salads.

Here’s a recipe I used just last evening for supper:
1 cup chopped Armenian Cucumber (or more if you like it.)
3 cups of torn lettuce leaves,
1 chopped red onion,
2 firm ripe tomatoes, chopped
fresh mint leaves, chopped (a couple of tablespoons, or to taste. I like a lot)
fresh basil, chopped (ditto)
crumbled feta

Toss all together with olive oil and lemon juice dressing, or a nice ranch or yogurt dressing, stuff into a warm pita, and enjoy. I do like to use whatever is at hand for my salad, so don’t hesitate to add celery or bell peppers, parsley or olives.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A departure, possums!

I'm straying from the topic of food and fatalities today because of my snazzy new Halloween sunglasses. I bought them at Cracker Barrel and was ever so proud. I wore them for the first time last Saturday because that was, of course, the first day of October. It embarrassed my family to no end.

These sunglasses look like bat glasses, by the way. See? So I got to worrying that my sunglasses made me look like Dame Edna. Do you remember Dame Edna, possums? (She calls people "possums.") I looked her up on YouTube to refresh my own memory.

This short video is sure to make you laugh. Martin Sheen's reaction is priceless.

Hope I made you smile!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Miniature Candy!

Since I'm behind, I'll share something fun - an assortment of some miniature candy that I got through swaps with other collectors. Looks yummy enough to eat but - no calories! (It's made of oven bake clay!) (Best kind!) haa!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This past weekend, I was suffering from a miserable cold. The only upside was that I had a great excuse to prop up in my bed and finish reading The Traveling Tea Ladies ~Death in Dallas, written by Melanie O'Hara Salyers.

I had gotten to preview this book a few months ago, so that I could give a blurb. Getting to read the first three chapters had me chomping at the bit to finish the book. The remaining chapters were not a disappointment! This book combines interesting, yet relatable characters, great locations and a compelling mystery. Since this is for the Fatal Foodies, I cannot neglect to mention that the food descriptions are tantilizing!

The main character, Amelia, owns a tea room in the small Tennessee town of Dogwood Cove. Amelia brews up wonderful teas and all of the accompaniments. Scones, truffles, quiches, soups and pies are just a few of the Pink Dogwood Tea Room's specialties.

A trip to Texas for a college homecoming celebration has Amelia and her girlfriends eating their way through Dallas. The ladies indulge in everything from cheese fries at a college dive to fancy cocktail hor'dourves.

The good times in Dallas are short-lived when Amelia and her friends find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a murder investigation. Things get complicated very quickly as the history of the deceased is uncovered. This cozy mystery is a page-turner that will have readers guessing right up till the end!

Once you have finished the story, there are several recipes in the back of the book. Melanie O'Hara Salyers is much like her main character in that she owns a tea room. The author's love of tea is evident throughout the story, and in the recipes that she shares.

Melanie's official debut of the book will be next weekend at her tea room. Check out her site for more details about the debut, or how to order her book.
Happy reading and Bon AppeTEA!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apparently, It's Time for Cider Donuts

I had never heard of these until Audrey Lintner posted about them the other day. Naturally, I looked them up and found a raft of references. Here are a few. If you don't like them, do a search of your own on cider donuts, cider donut recipe, apple cider donuts or any of many variations. You'll turn up more sites than you can shake a stick at, if that's your idea of a good time.

Diana's Desserts
Home Made Simple
Cupcake Project
Pumpkin Patches and More

Apple fritters--now, those, I've heard of. While I was at it, I found this recipe for Nothin' to Fret about Apple Fritters by Rachel Ray on

The Rachel Ray recipe has apple rings, but I think I like 'em better with chunks. And I like 'em better if someone other than I makes them (yes, that is grammatically correct).

Marian Allen

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Correction to soup recipe

If you were up very early and decided to make a pot of my soup, you are in for a surprise. I mistakenly called for several heads of garlic. It should, of course, be cloves of garlic. It has been corrected below.

Vicki's Sloorich Fall Soup

The next novel in the Klondike Gold Rush series, Gold Mountain (Fall 2011) will have flashbacks to the two years Fiona MacGillivray spent with a family of Travellers (aka Gypsies) in Scotland. In my research for that I didn’t come across any meals we might actually want to eat – lots of trapped rabbits and potatoes – but I did discover that they called a big pot of soup, into which they threw everything they had along with lots of potatoes sloorich.

Yesterday I made squash soup for the freezer and I realised I was creating a sloorich of my own.

Vicki’s Fall Soup with Everything Thrown into the Pot.

These are the portions I used, you can use any combination and amount of root vegetables. It makes a wonderful thick creamy soup without any flour, milk, or cream.

2 large butternut squash
2 large sweet potatoes
4 – 5 potatoes
Several carrots (I used yellow heirloom – a richer, sweeter flavour)
2 large onions
Several cloves of garlic

Peel and chop squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic. If potatoes are new and/or thin skinned the skin can be left on after scrubbing. Same with carrots.
Toss everything in a roasting pan with

3 tbsp olive oil
Lots of salt and pepper
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric

Roast at 350 degrees for about 1 ½ hours until vegetable are very soft.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Toss in blender until thick and smooth.
Put in a stock pot along with
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or as much as required for the consistency you like)
Simmer until stock is blended.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I almost hate to post on top of Gayle's wonderful entry on the Oklahoma Sugar Art Show, which is happening in the very city of my birth, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Be sure and read all about it in yesterday's entry, and go see the show if you're anywhere near.

Talk about a change of pace! Today I'm writing about nopales. Or maybe a meal of nopales followed by a piece of cake would be nice.

Nopales, for the uninitiated, are the pads of the prickly pear cactus. Nopales are widely consumed in the American desert Southwest and Mexico, but it is nothing that I ever came across during my Oklahoma childhood. This is why I'm currently engaged in nopales research. My Alafair Tucker mystery series is set in Oklahoma in the 1910s, and my protagonist, Alafair, is a prodigious cook. What she cooks, of course, is food indigenous to her region. But in the book I'm working on now, Alafair travels out here to Arizona, and is introduced to an entirely new cuisine.

Which of course includes nopales. Nopales can be used in salads, casseroles, soups, grilled and prepared in a variety of other ways. Nopales are somewhat tart and taste rather like green beans, or a little like asparagus. Nopales are often compared to okra, because of the sticky substance they release when cooked. This is usually rinsed off before serving.

Cactus pads are widely available in markets out here in Arizona, or even harvested right in your own back yard. They have to be handled carefully, as you might guess, but it's really not that hard to prepare them. Just wear some heavy gloves and peel them -- or I've seen cooks scrub the needles off with a pot scrubber! then the thick edges are trimmed off. You can cut them into thin strips or chop them. Place them in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off the sticky stuff (or put in a pinch of baking soda at the end of the cooking time, which will absorb a lot of the stuff). Use cooked nopales in soups, stews and salads. They can be scrambled with eggs - a favorite Mexican Lenten dish - or used as a taco filling.

A really delicious way to use nopales is to grill them. Peel and trim the pads, then brush them with olive oil and grill until they're soft and slightly charred. Grilled nopales are especially delicious with grilled meat. Nopales can also be cut into strips, batter-dipped and rolled in breadcrumbs, cornmeal or flour, and fried like french fries.

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show

This weekend–October 1-3–Kerry Vincent will be hosting the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show. Set up will take place on Friday, October 1. Below is the 2009 Grand Prize winning cake decorated by Mercedes Strachwsky of Florida. Mercedes’ cake beautifully illustrated the show’s theme, “Of Sea and Shore.”
On Saturday, October 2, visitors can attend the show from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Sunday, October 3, the event will be open to the public from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (or the conclusion of the awards ceremony).

The Grand National Wedding Cake Competition’s 2010 theme is Mansions and Monasteries. Contestants will “create a showpiece depicting elements from an existing mansion or monastery.”

A special guest to the show this year will be Richard Ruskell. To date, Chef Ruskell has won the most Food Network Challenge comeptitions. Additional guest “stars” include Corporate Chef Donald Wressell, “Cake Chicks” Cheri Elder, Bronwen Weber, and Carolyn Wanke Mangold, and the award-winning chef Andrew Shotts.

If you’re attending the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show, be sure to check out all the wonderful vendors on hand. You can get some terrific items there–at least, I know I did! Also, if you go, please say hello to Kerry and give her a hug from Daphne and Gayle!
(Originally posted on Gayle's Killer Cakes blog on Monday, Sept. 27.)