Thursday, May 19, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Audrey Kalman, Author of Dance of Souls

Taste Will Tell
by Audrey Kalman

I’ve always loved both writing and cooking. In fact, I once wrote and published a cookbook. That was back in the days when “self-publishing” meant photocopying and comb binding the pages.

The combination of books and food—or literature and gustatory experiences, if you want to be fancy about it—is a natural one, and food seems to work its way into my writing often. A scene from my novel Dance of Souls brings two characters together for a home-cooked meal:

Roxanna had cooked him pollo mole—her mother’s recipe, with nothing from a jar or can. She had toasted and ground the nuts herself and softened the fruit (although she had used the blender and not the metate her mother would have used), hoping to demonstrate to Mr. Candine that in some dishes, albeit not in the case of coffee, ample emotion could compensate for a less-than-scientific approach. He had even helped her in the kitchen as they drank Corona straight from the bottle—another concession by Mr. Candine to his steadily slipping standards. Indeed, the dish had been a great success and they had both eaten more than was strictly good for them.

You could hardly find two more mismatched lovers; their attitudes toward food reveal their differences. Roxanna, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is searching for her place in suburban California and has latched onto a fundamentalist church as a way to stay connected to her past. Cooking is part of her heritage and childhood, something she does as naturally as breathing.

Mr. Candine is a displaced mid-westerner, a religious fanatic with delusions of grandeur and some very peculiar ideas about the world. He also teaches middle-school science. His fussy precision—really just a way for him to maintain the illusion of control—makes itself evident when he cooks and eats. (The mention of coffee is a reference to the scientific exactitude he brings to the task of brewing his morning joe.)  It’s a great testament to Roxanna’s feminine wiles that she has gotten him to loosen up enough to drink beer while helping her cook, and straight from the bottle, no less!

How a character relates to food, cooking, and eating reveals a great deal about who they are and their motivations. I wonder what it reveals about authors…

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

You can find Audrey here:

Audrey has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen and has been editing professionally for more than twenty-five years. Her novel What Remains Unsaid is scheduled for publication in 2016 by Sand Hill Review Press. Her previous novel, Dance of Souls, appeared in 2011. Many online and print journals have published her short fiction and poetry. She lives in northern California with her husband, two sons, and two cats, and is at work on another novel. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sharon Ricklin Jones, Author of the Ravenswynd Series

In Greek mythology, Ambrosia is considered the food and drink of the gods. It is often depicted as bestowing longevity or immortality upon whoever consumes it. The Ravens (a secret society of vampires) use donor blood and call their ruby-red liquid Ambrosia. This nectar is life sustaining on its own, but contrary to popular belief, vampires also eat solids. Because of their heightened senses, the Ravens are acutely aware of how things taste, and take much pleasure in consuming a wide variety of foods. Fortunately, these ravenous vampires do not gain weight.

In book 1 (Ravenswynd Legends) Elizabeth believes she’s just met the man of her dreams. Before she can get to really know him, she receives an invitation to a clandestine party – where legend has it – is hosted by vampires. The invitation promises a good time, good food and drink, and the choice to become “one of them”. She, her twin sister Melinda, and best friend Fiona, decide to attend, and as you can imagine - their lives will never be the same. Vampires also have an appetite for changing things…

Champagne flows freely. Platters of sizzling hot fillet mignon, (grilled to perfection, juicy and rare) are served, along with baked potatoes, baskets of hot, buttery bread, salads, and chocolate fudge cake. Everyone’s having fun…at first.

But the evening grows ominous, and chances are, they may never get home; Melinda is getting drunk, Fiona's gone missing, and a nightmarish clown is stalking Elizabeth. But even more terrifying - this sinister vampire thirsts for much more than what's flowing through her veins…

Book 2, Ravenswynd Dreams, opens with a romantic and mouthwatering honeymoon.

Upon entering the suite, Elizabeth notices the sweet scent of fresh fruit: grapes, strawberries, cherries and mangoes, apples and bananas. Also, a gift-basket containing a bottle of champagne with a variety of crackers, sharp cheese, smoky sausages, and dark chocolates. (For needed nourishment…later on.)

Several scrumptious meals will be consumed. On a night out on the town they enjoy jellied ham hock, a glazed leek and mushroom tart, and for the main course - rack of lamb with a crispy herb crust, Boulangère potatoes, and butternut squash. They drink a fine bottle of Chablis, and for dessert - hot fudge sundaes smothered in rich chocolate and warm toffee. The honeymooners will also feast on a delectable lunch that includes savory lobster for two, a bottle of red wine, and five-layer chocolate cream pie for dessert. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering now.

I bet you didn’t know that vampires love chocolate. After moving to the UK and meeting the rest of the vampire society at Ravenswynd, Elizabeth is pleased to learn this fact. She often finds the cook whipping up batches of chocolate mousse or Tiramisu cheesecake for dessert. She also discovers a little known secret: immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her dreams become real-life nightmares, and she finds herself up to her neck in a mind-bending abduction…

In book 3, Ravenswynd Visions, an enchanting trip to the Hebrides brings magnificent sights, and more luscious foods. Not only is the lodge’s fridge stocked with a basket of plump strawberries, Hebridean handmade chocolates and a bottle of fine Italian wine, Elizabeth is surprised to find that their violet-eyed prophetess, Sibelle can cook. She serves fresh fruits, bacon and eggs, grilled tomato, toast and marmalade, with cups of steaming hot English tea. On the side - tall glasses of Ambrosia - a most delicious donor, of course.

She also serves them a disturbing prophecy in the form of a rhyming riddle. This fills Elizabeth with a dreadful sense of foreboding; she knows that Sibelle is never wrong. And sometimes evil returns when you least expect it…

In book 4, Ravenswynd Destinies, a tasty breakfast includes fresh fruit-stuffed cantaloupe: each half filled with oranges, apples, peaches, blueberries, and strawberries, topped with honey- yogurt dressing, and on the side - scoops of fluffy scrambled eggs and ham.

At an elegant restaurant, Lizzy orders pan-fried Gressingham duck breast with star anise and blood-orange sauce – (It’s a real thing!) This comes with potatoes Dauphinoise and chef’s vegetables. Her husband orders the Prime Scottish sirloin steak (so melt-in-your-mouth divine, that Lizzy wishes she’d ordered it as well.)

Alas, there is more to our story than food. A forbidden trip to the U.S. enrages a clandestine ring of Vampire Hunters, putting everyone in danger. There’s another mystifying prophesy. Heart-twisting and astonishing revelations will change everything…

* * * * *

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for though, Sharon!

NOTE: Book 1 of the Ravenswynd Series is FREE everywhere.

Find Sharon and the books here:

Friday, May 6, 2016

FOODFIC: Iqbal - Francesco D'Adamo

13-year-old Fatima works in a carpet factory, bonded to master Hussain Khan to pay off her family’s debt. Khan keeps the total amount owed on a slate beside each child worker's loom, lightening the debts by one rupee for each full day of satisfactory work. When all the debt lines have been erased, the children will be free to go home. Fatima, who’s been indentured to Khan for 3 years (and to 2 other masters before him), doesn’t know which chalk marks represent her running tally and which spell out her name because she never learned to read.

Her entire young life consists of carpet-weaving: a work day that runs from sunrise to sunset, opening with chapatti and dal half an hour before dawn, served by the master’s wife in one large bowl to be shared amongst the 14 child laborers. They do break for a lunch of chapatti and vegetables, but, as Fatima relates, break lasted an hour…hunger a good deal longer.

And in the early days, she dreamed of home, including the sweet laddu my mother made with chickpea flour, the desserts and almonds that we ate on feast days. But those memories have faded over the years, and the hopes the children now share with one another are not for sweeter food, but for sweeter dreams. Or even any dreams at all. Fatima’s grandmother once told her that to have no dreams is the worst fate of all, and so the children compete every morning by making up fantastical sleep adventures from the night before.

Those false dreams were truly all they had to live on until Iqbal arrived. Iqbal, who was two years older than Fatima with eyes sweet and deep and [that] weren’t afraid.

It is Iqbal who crushes those pretend dreams as well as the children’s hopes that their debts will indeed someday be erased. But he replaces those fantasies with a real hope – that one day they will run away from the factory. A dream that Iqbal swears he will bring to fruition. And that may actually sustain them far better than that forgotten sweet laddu.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome C.M. Keller, Author of Screwing Up Time

When Shelley asked me to write about the food in my Screwing Up Time series, I was excited.

Probably because I’m a foodie and so food plays an integral role in my time travel novels. Henry, the main character in my time travel novels, is always dealing with food. If it’s not because of his mom, a dyed-in-the-wool, organic health food nut, who serves tofu-turkey for Thanksgiving or his sister Kate and her midnight trips for fries and Whoppers, it’s the food he encounters while he travels in other times and places.

After all, how can you visit the Middle Ages and not experience eel pie or a cockentrice (a combination of a pig and a chicken sewn together and cooked)? Because let’s face it, cockentrice is cool. And eel pie is just weird.

But food is more than setting and characterization. It’s also part of what drives the story. Even in our real lives, food is part of the plot. At holiday times, we come together to share a meal. Engagements happen over candle-lit dinners. Even many religious ceremonies like Communion and Passover involve food. So too, food helps drive the plots of in the Screwing Up Time series. In Screwing Up Babylon, a monkey with the aim of a Yankees’ pitcher in a pendant-winning year nails people with limes in Babylon. And when the beast is tamed with candied orange peel, Henry discovers the key to rescuing a woman from the harem. Or in one of my favorite scenes from Screwing Up Alexandria, Henry steals a mug of Sumerian beer so he can mix up a time travel elixir and save the woman he loves from being sacrificed.

Oddly enough, the food in my novels often drives the plot of my own life. Because if I’m going to write about ancient beers, candied orange peel, and eel pies, I have to know how they taste. The beer was great. Candied orange peel is delicious. And eel pie…okay, I didn’t really make eel pie. But I ate smoked eel, which is probably close enough, and it was surprisingly good.

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

You can find Connie here:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Wendy Jones, Author of Killer's Cut

Scotch Pehs and Tattie Scones

Scots and food are inextricably linked. Long cold winters mean that hot, high calorie food is enjoyed with relish. Scotch broth thick with barley and brimming with vegetables, and stews made with the best Scotch beef are staple fare. Fodd that warms 'the cockles of your heart', or 'sticks to your ribs' as my grandmother would often say.

Italian immigrants brought fish and chips to Scotland and so began a love affair with all things deep-fried. Fish, dipped in batter and then fried to golden perfection, is served with fat succulent chips. Scotch pehs are also a much loved delicacy. Peh is the local Dundee word for pie. This is short cut pastry filled with spicy minced beef and dripping with grease. The pastry crumbles in your mouth and mixes with the mince causing a flavour akin to ambrosia.

The Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie Mysteries are set in Dundee. Shona and her team work long hours and the food they eat to fuel them is integrated throughout the books. In fact they eat a lot. Bacon rolls feature regularly with huge Scottish morning rolls filled with several thick rashers of bacon. Tattie Scones are another Scottish breakfast delicacy particularly enjoyed by Sergeant Peter Johnston. These are flat, made from potato and, you've got it, fried.

Dundee has had a long relationship with India due to the jute that came in to the ports. Therefore Indian curry is widely available. Shona's favourite food is anything from an Indian takeaway therefore she often orders it in for the team to enjoy.

Some of the best cakes in Scotland are made in Rough and Frasers bakery in Dundee, as are the pehs. Therefore, Shona often nips in to buy cakes for the team. They say an Army marches on its stomach; well, so do the police. They do in my books anyway.

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

You can find Wendy here:

Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer's Cut is the fourth book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series.

Friday, April 15, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tonya Kappes, Author of Spies and Spells

There is just something about going to a diner in a small town. . .

I grew up in a small rural Kentucky town. It’s one of those thing when someone asks me where I’m from, I’m going to say the county name instead of the city. That’s just the way a small town rolls. 

That is just ONE of the things that I loved about growing up in a small town in the south.

In most small towns there is that one diner, the one greasy spoon that no matter what time of day you go, there is a line and the counter stools are filled with the same local, little old men in their John Deere hats with a cup of coffee in their hand.

When you go to open the door, you have to give the bottom corner a little tap with the toe of your shoe because it gets a little stuck every once in a while and the above the door dings as soon as you fully open it, our hearts swell with joy. Then our stomach rumbles as the smell of homemade biscuits, sausage gravy, and bacon grease swirl and curl around our nose with strong coffee chasing shortly after. Our eyes scan the top of the full diner just so we can find a couple available seats. After we find that seat, our usual waitress, the only waitress, comes over and fills the foggy plastic glass with the chip in the rim with water and a pot of coffee dangling from her hand. You don’t need a menu. You know what they serve at your diner as if it were tattooed on your brain.

And just thinking about that fried egg has your mouth watering. . .

Awe. . .wasn’t that a great step back into a wonderful memory? What about your memories? Do at least half of them revolve around food?

Food is such a wonderful way to gather people. It is magical really. Food creates community, builds relationships, and fills our souls. Doesn’t this sound exactly how a novel should feed your mind?

I think so too! In every single novel, mostly all in series, I’ve written (twenty-six published), I make the diner and settings of my small, southern towns just as much a character as my heroine and hero. It’s a comfort to the reader to open a novel in a series and know what it feels like to flip the first page and step back into the diner they have grown to love because of all the warm and fuzzy they get from visiting.

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

                                                                         You can visit Tonya here:

Tonya has written over 20 novels and 4 novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor, and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers and one ex-stray cats in northern Kentucky and grew up in the small southern Kentucky town of Nicholasville. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes fulltime but can be found at all of her guys high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nancy Lynn Jarvis, Author of A Neighborly Killing

Realtor and occasional amateur sleuth Regan McHenry keeps chocolate chip cookie dough in her freezer ready to take and bake at open houses to create a homey feel. It’s an old Realtor trick, well, that and putting a drop of vanilla on an electric burner to accomplish the same aromatic lure.

So it’s natural that she would bring chocolate-laced melty comforting cookies to the wrongly accused in their jail cells or to use food to gather clues. When she doesn’t have quid-pro-quoi information to exchange with her policeman-friend Dave, she’s been known to loosen his lips with scones. (And he’s been known to cause a dinner disaster with a well-timed call and tidbit of information that makes her forget to stir her risotto.)

But in the latest Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery, A Neighborly Killing, due out this month, Regan uses a full dinner as a culinary carrot to catch her crook, a recent émigré from Columbia:

Hector Gonzalez was due for dinner at 6:00 on Thursday. Regan was still going to play bad cop to Tom’s good cop, appropriate especially since she knew Hector was woman averse. She was going to come across as the perfect hostess, though, and had researched traditional Colombian meals. Potato-filled empanadas, tidy little fold-over pastries that took forever to prepare, were on her list for hors d'oeuvres . The rest of the meal was a traditional Colombian banadeja paisa, a platter laden with red beans cooked with pork, white rice, ground meat, eggs, chicharrón, plantain, chorizo sausages, corn pancakes called arepa, avocado, and lemon. The great commonality all the food except the rice, avocado, and lemon had was that it was fried. Authenticity set off the smoke alarm in the kitchen twice as Regan perspired over her creations.

Her plan would have worked, too, if during the after dinner conversation she and her husband hadn’t overplayed their hand by suggesting to Hector, a self-styled “Highly Sensitive Person,” that there were spirits of the dead nearby and scaring him so badly he fled before incriminating himself. Oh well. At least their failure wasn’t because of her cuisine.

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

You can find Nancy here:

Friday, April 1, 2016

5-Year Blogiversary!

NO FOOLIN' ;) I'm thrilled to celebrate another year of delicious reads!

This year I dug into: 

Become Your Own Matchmaker – Patti Stanger
Lailah – Nikki Kelly
I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore
The Royal Diaries - Elizabeth I – Kathryn Lasky
Queen Sugar – Natalie Baszile
Dakota – Gwen Florio
ZOO – James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Going Over – Beth Kephart

These fabulous authors also stopped by to share their food for thought:

Leyla Kader Dahm – Annabeth Neverending
Carmen DeSousa – Creatus
John Dolan – A Poison Tree
Gary Dolman – The Eighth Circle of Hell
Lorna Dounaeva – May Queen Killers
Dorothy Dreyer – My Sister's Reaper
E.J. Fechenda – The Beautiful People
Karl Fields – Steths: Cognition
Christoph Fischer – In Search of a Revolution
Ashley Fontainne – Growl
Fayette Fox – The Deception Artist
Rhiannon Frater – Fighting to Survive
Chris Galford – As Feathers Fall
Mark David Gerson – The MoonQuest
Katherine Gilraine – Revival IV (The Index Series)
Mark Gilroy – Cold as Ice
Kim Golden – Snowbound
Peter Golden – Wherever There is Light
Alisse Goldenberg – Bath Salts
Amelia Gormley – Strain
Staci Greason – The Last Great American Housewife
R.S. Guthrie – Honor Land
Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson – The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow
Dianne Harman – Murder at the Cooking School
Milda Harris – Adventures in Funeral Crashing
Kelly Hashway – The Monster Within
Tamar Hela – The Wrong Fairy Tale
Guido Henkel – Hunted
Laura Hile – Mercy's Embrace
Kim Hornsby – The Dream Jumper's Secret
Axel Howerton – Hot Sinatra
Lynn Hubbard – Return to Love
Sandra Hunter – Elanraigh
Mona Ingram – Forever Changed
Elizabeth Isaacs – The Light of Asteria
Vickie Johnstone – The Sea Inside
Richard Rhys Jones – Sisterhood of the Serpent
Sanela Jurich – Remember Me
Luke Murphy – Kiss & Tell
Michelle Zaffino – The Love Quad

With so many great guests this year, I didn’t get to blog about every book I read. And, to be fair, not every read lends itself to a good FoodFic discussion, either because the food in the story doesn't jump out at me, or my schedule’s already full for the year, or a book’s subject matter is too dark or serious for me to lightly chat about here.

Anyway, below are most (I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few) of the books I read over the past year that weren’t reviewed here at BWATE?

And, as always, please feel free to suggest some great reads for me in the coming year. :)

Karin Slaughter – Pretty Girls

Friday, March 25, 2016

FOODFIC: Going Over - Beth Kephart

Love proves itself.

Ada didn’t think up this saying, but she believes it as fiercely as if she did. And the love she wants to do the proving is that of Stefan, the boy she’s loved for the 3 years since she turned 12.

Unfortunately Ada’s story doesn’t take place in 21st century in America, and the hill she wants Stefan to surmount to be with her isn’t some sort of metaphorical social obstacle. Ada and Stefan live in 1983 Germany on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. He’s East, she’s West, and they’re  separated not only by the imposing cement, but by its accompanying fences, mines, dogs, and twenty-two-centimeter-high asparagus grass as well.

Yes, I had to stop there and look that  up. You’ll be interested – I know I was – to learn that asparagus grass is edible, and it is grass. No, I wasn’t initially sure of either; I thought it might be a name for some sort of weapon or obstacle, like barbed wire. Funny enough, in some of  the images I found it does look a bit like barbed wire, and its shoots are organized – or rather so disorganized – that in Turkish they call asparagus grass “Kuxkonmaz” which translates to “bird can’t land,” so its usage/placement around the wall is perhaps more apropos than the Germans were even aware.

Anyway, yes, Wikipedia may have proven the existence of asparagus grass, but not Stefan’s love.*

On their scheduled permitted visits, Ada sneaks in articles describing the best escape gadgets – double-jointed ladders, invisible string, escapable coffins – but all Stefan wants to do is kiss her and take her hand and go for walks. He wants to savor every precious moment they have together by being together, while Ada wants him to devise a way to make that time endless. He’s today, while she’s always five steps into tomorrow. When you look at it that way – his short-sightedness versus her long – hers seems more like love, his like infatuation. Then again, his feelings might be the more grounded and realistic of the two when considering the concrete obstacles in their path.

Either way, you’ll be pulling for these to beat the odds, cross that wall, and trample that asparagus grass.

*Because love proves itself, remember? I know I digressed a bit, but surely you can’t have forgotten that already!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sanela Jurich, Author of Remember Me

At the innocent age of fifteen, Selma was just beginning to experience the power of her first love.

Unfortunately, living in Bosnia in 1992, Selma and her parents soon found themselves targets of the Bosnian War. Being in a war, they didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to food. They ate whatever they could find.

Since Selma and her parents lived in a city, they didn’t have a vegetable garden or live stock. They ran out of money, so they couldn’t just go out and buy food.

At first, they would walk to Selma’s grandparents’ farm and borrow food. The walk would usually take them about two hours there and two hours back, but as the war situation got worse, going there became too dangerous.

After Selma’s father got arrested by the Serb army and taken away to a concentration camp, Selma and her mother were at the end of their rope. They had absolutely nothing to eat and no way of getting food. That’s when one of Selma’s neighbors pitched in and started sharing with them what little food she had left.

She didn’t have much herself, so they had to come up with their own recipes in order to create something out of nothing.

One of Selma’s favorite things to eat at the time were these little doughnut-like cookies they didn’t even have a name for.

In a large bowl, they would mix a little bit of flour with a couple of diced apples, a pinch of sugar, and some water. They would, then, take spoon-fulls of it and deep fry until golden brown. Sprinkled with some powder sugar—if they were lucky enough to have it— it almost tasted delicious.

Those were the happy memories of shared meals in a war. However, those days didn’t last too long, for Selma was unfortunate enough to be taken away from home and thrown into a concentration/rape camp where she had to learn the hard way about how little a person needs in order to survive.

Follow Selma’s journey through love, despair, hope, and peace in author Sanela Jurich’s Remember Me. Experience the brutality of the Bosnian Genocide, but see how God’s hand restores Selma’s life tenfold. Understand the courage it takes to face your attackers and relive the pain in the name of justice. Discover whether love can blossom from beneath the rubble of war.

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

You can find Sanela here: